Homeless and unemployed, Reife Wallis posted a desperate plea for help on social media in his darkest hour.
He braced for the worst: “‘Harden up princess’, ‘get over it, move on’, stuff like that was what I was expecting,” he said.
But food, blankets and other essentials were donated to Mr Wallis soon after he shared his story on a community Facebook page.
“How thankful I am for everybody who reached out to me and all the kindness that I was shown.”
Mr Wallis, who lives in Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales Mid North Coast, was overwhelmed by scores of supportive comments and offers for assistance from his post.
In the past month, Mr Wallis lost work due to the COVID lockdown and resorted to living in a tent after a falling out with his former housemate.
He said that series of events led him to feel suicidal.
“I’m just some random dude who put up a post that was really emotional and a cry for help,” he said.
Kaysha Holmes was among those whose offers for help translated offline when she met up with Mr Wallis for a coffee and donated him food.
She put the mostly positive response to Mr Wallis’s post down to shared community experience.
“I think a lot of people would have been in the same boat in the past,” Ms Holmes said.
“That one tiny thing can really change a whole perspective on someone’s life and make them think that life is worth living and that’s the most powerful thing I think that anyone can do. “
The outpouring of support highlighted the power of community spirit and generosity, Grant Blashki from Beyond Blue said.
But he cautioned that social media, like so much technology, “can be positive and negative” and that not all interactions turned out like Mr Wallis’s.
Dr Blashki encouraged people to ensure they took steps, such as being aware of fake profiles scamming people, avoiding publishing contact details and checking privacy settings to stay safe online.
He also pointed to peer support online forums run by mental health support organisations, such as Beyond Blue, for a safe space to discuss their situation and seek help.
For Mr Wallis, the support he received from the community was something he would cherish.
“It was the biggest shock that I’ve ever experienced, I had no idea that there were going to be so many people who cared so much,” he said.