Youth speak out online to start mental health conversation
CONNOR Tarrant has a semicolon tattooed on his arm to represent that the sentence isn't over. His life isn't over.
But it's his heartbeats surrounding the semi-colon that tells a bigger story, one Mr Tarrant is using to help start the conversation about youth mental health in the Clarence Valley.
"I lived 16 years of my life not really knowing what was outside what I saw in front of me, until I was diagnosed with depression," the 18-year-old said.
"I went through losses, I lost family members, I lost friends, and it all started to take a toll on me," he said.
"I've been in hospital, I've gone down that path where I felt like there is just nothing left to give."
Mr Tarrant said he knew something was wrong and wanted to move on.
"I saw it as, 'okay, it's a part of me, all I can do is try and move on with my life'," he said.
Now he is using his experience to help other young people.
"I also knew that there were people who are struggling, whether they want to talk to a complete stranger or they want to talk to someone they know, I want to be that person that they know," he said.
"So over the last year, that's what I've focused on, helping other people.
"Just being that one person who isn't a stranger to them who will sit an listen and will be a friend."
In the past, Mr Tarrant has held live streams on Facebook where he shared his story and played music to help youth feel more comfortable talking about their experience with mental illness.
"It took me a few months to build up to confidence," he said.
"I figured our two or three songs that really helped me, and I sat there and told my story.
"It was 'this is what is going on in my life, this is why I do what I do'."
"If I can inspire someone else to feel better ... it's so maybe they can open up to that stranger, whether that be a counsellor or that friend they now see as a stranger.
"It might just help some- one to realise not to dwell on what's happened and look forward to what's going to happen next."
Mr Tarrant said when he finished the live streams, people kept sending him messages.
"I got messages saying 'what you did... has really opened my eyes'," he said.
"It gave me that sense of achievement, that I've done something.
"I think sometimes it's easier talking to a friend, even talking to a stranger that's the same age."