The Story of the Tree of Dreams™
The Tree of Dreams™ is an Iris Foundation project to raise awareness and funds for support of suicide prevention on the Central Coast.
Why the project was created
The Tree of Dreams™ is an expression of shared loss and aims to create a positive ripple of hope, connectedness and community support.
The death of a loved one is never easy to experience, but the process of bereavement is more challenging with suicide. Shame, guilt and blame are often among the strong emotions felt and can isolate survivors from their community and greatly undermine a family’s ability to provide mutual support.
The tree, located in the grounds of Wyong Milk Factory provides a public space to express and acknowledge these emotions and feel connected with others that may be experiencing similar circumstances.
The visual display also draws attention to the impact of suicide among those not directly affected. This increased awareness and understanding can help to break down the stigma surrounding poor mental health and suicide, creating an enduring benefit to the broader community.
Whenever there is an outpouring of emotion, there follows comfort, hope, support, and healing.
The history of the event
The first Tree of Dreams™ event in 2016 was inspired by four local women who had been impacted by suicide. Their losses forged a determination to make a difference in support of the prevention of suicide on the Central Coast.
Hundreds of tags were sold and these hand-written messages adorned the old fig tree in front of the Coast Hotel at Budgewoi throughout the month of December. The concept became a unique fundraiser which helped fund the running of early intervention programs across the region.
Most importantly, the Tree of Dreams™ helped to spread a message of hope to the wider community. The tree not only gave people a memorable way to pay tribute to those they have lost but also opened dialogue on the issue of suicide.
The impact of suicide
The devastation wrought by suicide is a tragedy of epic proportions that lingers for years in the hearts and minds of those left behind.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15 to 44. The ripple effect of suicide in the community is profound. Suicide Prevention Australia reports in 2016 that 85 per cent of respondents knew someone who had died by suicide and, for a further 37 per cent, the death had significant and devastating effects that are still felt.