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Australians from all walks of life are urged to gather with friends and family to shine a light on suicide on the longest night of the year - the Winter Solstice, 21 June 2018.

Communities across Australia are being called on to host their own events - whether they’re as simple as joining loved ones, neighbours and co-workers for warm food in front of a cosy fire - to support those impacted by suicide and mental ill health.

The Australians for Mental Health Campaign is encouraging communities to shine a light on the longest night, with each day after the Winter Solstice getting a little bit lighter.

“There are around four million Australians suffering from mental ill health,” Campaign Patron and Former Australian of the year Patrick McGorry AO said.

“Holding a Winter Solstice event is a simple way to raise awareness of and send a message to governments that we can and must do better to treat and support Australians suffering mental ill health."

The Winter Solstice for Survivors of Suicide and Friends event was launched by the Baker family in Albury in 2013, following the loss of their daughter Mary, aged 15, to suicide.

Realising there was little support for those who had lost a loved one to suicide, Annette and Stuart Baker established the Winter Solstice event to unite those impacted by grief and to end the silence and stigma of suicide and mental illness.

The annual event, in Albury's QEII Square, attracts crowds of more than 1000 people each year who listen to renowned speakers and soothing music amid a backdrop of warming soups, curries and comforting fires.

This year, all Australians are called on to hold their own gatherings to support those impacted by loss and to campaign for those suffering mental ill-health by sharing photos of their gatherings on social media with the hashtag #shinealightonmentalillhealth

“This June gather your friends, neighbours and co-workers and host an event to shine a light for those affected by suicide and mental illness,” AFMH Board member Lisa Sweeney said.

“Winter solstice marks the darkest night of the year before the slow climb back to summer.

“The four million Australians affected by mental ill-health and their families have known a different kind of darkness, often facing a mental health system that is under-funded, under-resourced and failing us."

This year, Albury's QEII Square will host Gold Logie winner Samuel Johnson, rugby star Ian Roberts and author Tim Elliott.

For all media inquiries, including interviews with former Australian of the year Patrick McGorry and families impacted by mental ill-health, please contact Steve Michelson 0427 906 100.