A YOUNG singer whose life was shattered by the tragic death of three friends has embarked on a remarkable busking tour across Australia in a bid to raise awareness of depression and suicide.
From January 20, Mel Yeates, 30, will be in South Australia, and beyondblue has urged locals to get behind her effort to raise awareness of mental illness and get people talking about it.
Her one-woman campaign, ‘A Girl, Her Car and Her Guitar’, began after what she described as the most difficult years of her life.
During a secondary school camp, Mel’s best friend and another friend were killed in a devastating accident.
Soon after, another close family friend died by suicide and her cousin was diagnosed with cancer.
“I lost my best friend; we shared everything, that’s how close we were,” Mel said.
“I lost all interest in school, friends and my family.
“I didn’t care about study and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.”
But Mel found inspiration in the work of Australian actor Samuel Johnson (Molly, Secret Life of Us), who started the Love Your Sister charity following his sister Connie’s terminal breast cancer diagnosis.
In 2013, Johnson cycled almost 16,000km around Australia on a unicycle, raising more than $1.5 million for cancer research.
Inspired by his achievement, Mel picked up her guitar and starting busking.
She raised $20,000 for beyondblue and Johnson’s Love Your Sister charity in less than six months.
She is now using her life savings to fund a second, more ambitious target – $100,000 for the two charities.
“Raising $100,000 is pretty daunting and it’ll take a long time, but I’m going to give it my best,” she said.
“Every gig I do, there’s someone in the audience who has been affected by mental health or knows someone that has been, and when I share my story they share theirs.
“If I can make people happy while I’m singing, that’s great. I just want to make that difference.”
beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman thanked Mel for her amazing effort to help thousands of people living with mental health conditions.
“Mel has already raised a significant amount for us and now she’s devoting an entire year of her life to the cause,” Ms Harman said.
“It’s efforts like this that enable beyondblue to provide support services and programs for people affected by depression, anxiety and suicide and their families around the country.”
Mel is searching for venues to perform at across Australia. To help or to donate, visit gofundme.com/gcgmy
Mel will be busking in Moana, Seaford, Port Hughes and other South Australian suburbs from Friday, January 20.
Story Source: beyondblue