Zak Williams, son of Robin Williams, to share mental health insights at Albury Wodonga Winter Solstice – ABC News

Zak Williams, son of Robin Williams, to share mental health insights at Albury Wodonga Winter Solstice
Deeply kind and deeply curious is how Zak Williams remembers his dad, actor and comedian Robin Williams. 
Zak Williams will share his lived experience of losing a family member to suicide at the Albury Wodonga Winter Solstice.
Robin Williams died by suicide in 2014, after he was diagnosed with a life-changing illness.
Now a father himself, Zak has become a global mental health advocate.
"It’s just a privilege to be able to speak with people passionate about causes related to suicide prevention, mental health and stigma," he said.
He will speak at the annual Albury Wodonga event along with ABC Radio’s Weekend Nightlife host Indira Naidoo, who lost her sister to suicide, and other mental health advocates.
It is no coincidence the Survivors of Suicide and Friends (SOS&F) holds the Winter Solstice on June 21.
Annette and Stuart Baker co-founded SOS&F after experiencing their own loss when their daughter Mary took her own life in 2011.
The shortest day on the longest night is something the Baker family would look forward to as they started planning for brighter days.
Ms Baker said it was more than symbolic to shine a light on the darkest night.
"The solstice date was special for our family who look forward to summer days. Our son Jack’s birthday is the 23rd of June so those two dates have been important for us," she said.
She said the dark winter nights were also a challenge for people struggling with their mental health.
The border community was joined by Linda Burney MP and journalist Kerry O’Brien last year.
Both spoke from the heart in sharing their own family stories of loss and resilience.  
Zak Williams will be the first international speaker at the Winter Solstice.
"I jumped at the opportunity to support the organisation and the cause. I appreciate their perspective on mental health, Australians have an incredible viewpoint relative to the stigma to mental health and what needs to be done," he said.
This year’s solstice will mark a decade of advocating for the de-stigmatising and prevention of suicide.
Zak Williams appreciates his and his father’s lived experiences, and hopes by sharing these he can make a difference.
"He was my best friend and I miss him dearly," Zak said.
"I was so overjoyed by how much he appreciated his fans and I hope to carry on his legacy to continue to be kind and curious."
The Baker and Williams families know all too well the heartache of losing a loved one to suicide and hope that the Winter Solstice continues to bring people together in a supported community.
The Albury Wodonga Winter Solstice takes place on Tuesday, June 21 at QEII Square in Albury from 6pm.
We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn, and work.
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