our story

kicking the stigma one blue tree at a time

Sadly our story is not unique, but the legacy of Jayden Whyte is. The Blue Tree Project has flourished into a charity helping change the way we talk about mental health after Jayden Whyte took his own life in 2018. The blue trees now dotted across Australia and other parts of the world, act as beacons of hope & conversation starters. 

the original blue tree

Written by Tjarda Tiedeken

All kinds of stuff lay around us in the shed: rusty car parts, bent screwdrivers, split pieces of wood,  broken cups ... and some buckets. It was thirty-five degrees and work did not excite us to the maximum that day. Your dad asked us to go through the things in the shed and let him know if there was anything that could be thrown out. We opened the first bucket. The dried white paint clung to the lid and covered the walls of the bucket. A brush was stuck in the concrete-like mass. Next bucket, same thing: dried, hardened white paint. However, when I picked up the next bucket I could feel it sloshing. You took one of the nearby screwdrivers and pried off the paint-glued lid. It lay before us: a deep blue, flowing sea of ​​color, smoothly sending waves against the sides of the bucket as it moved in your hand. The paint tins were some of the few things your dad wanted to throw away, much to our disagreement. And so, we decided that if he did not want to use the paint, we would save it from drying out.


What did we want to do with it? Luckily, we still had a few hours of work ahead of us and by the evening we had the crazy idea that made us both smile when thinking of it. We would drive around the farm and pick a tree on a remote path to paint. The blue colour would be perfect standing out from all its surroundings. We imagined how your dad would drive past and wonder where the heck this thing came from. We could not wait for work to finish and without taking a shower, we drove to Sippes hardware in Mukinbudin, bought a brush and another bucket of blue paint, because the first bucket would certainly not be enough to paint a whole tree. It was already dark when we got home, but that would not stop us. After 20 minutes of driving around, we found the perfect tree: it was big enough, but not so big that we needed a ladder, dead, so we wouldn’t harm it, and was right on the side of a not too busy route.

We came back at night, equipped with torches, gloves, brushes, the blue paint and dressed in some old clothing. To reach the top of the tree, you would lift me up on your shoulders and I would try to get the last bit of the tree whilst blue paint was dripping from the brush into your hair. We were freezing but giggling the whole time, as we imagined what your dad would do and how confused he would be when first seeing the bright blue tree on his farm. It became a two-day job and we really hoped we would not get caught. It was probably because we accidentally placed that wish upon so many shooting stars whilst painting the tree that faded into the night in its new dark blue dress.


Oh, and the purple plant pots? Well, I think they were also meant to be thrown out. But of course you had other ideas. One day, when I was no longer working on the farm, you sent me a picture of how you had added them to our tree. I had not laughed that hard in a long time.


We miss you and your individual ideas.

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Jayden & Tjarda pictured alongside the original blue tree in Mukinbudin.

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