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Cornwall asked: “What sounds make you calm and happy?”

A local artist is asking people what sounds help them to feel calm and happy as part of a project aimed at supporting people with their mental health.

Echo Point is a joint project between Cornwall Council and local artist Justin Wiggan which aims to help people when they are feeling low and in times of crisis, allowing them to hear sounds that are relaxing and help to break negative thought patterns.

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Solar powered benches will be used at spots across the Cornish coastline where people can press a button and hear a soundscape. Evidence shows that sounds can play a vital part in helping to change a negative thought pattern.

Interim Director of Wellbeing and Public Health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Steve Brown said: “In Cornwall we have higher suicide rates than the national average. This could be due to a number of factors, including higher numbers among people in certain trades such as agricultural workers that can have high rates of stress. This could be avoided if they were able to talk to someone.

“In reality, almost every family or community will have been affected in some way at some time by suicide. It is often wrongly believed that nothing can be done but it’s interesting how something like this can help, firstly by helping to break up a negative thought pattern but also in helping to start the conversation, bringing people, organisations and communities together, to help contribute to prevention or intervening to save a life.“

So far, local Echo Point artist Justin Wiggan has had some fascinating feedback. He said: “The majority of sounds that people are feeding back to us are actually natural as opposed to man-made and these are the sounds of cats purring, waves lapping on the beach and bird song.”

He added: “This is an unusual project that addresses a serious issue for when people are in vulnerable situations and having negative thoughts that may lead to self-harm or suicide. We want to hear back from people about the sounds that make them feel calm, happy or both, to help dilute any negative thinking patterns and they thoughts to be redirected.”

The online questionnaire comprises 9 questions, varying from what instrument, animal, vehicle, sounds from work and sounds from nature make you calm and happy.  

The benches are expected to be installed later this year.

This project supports Cornwall Council’s priority for everyone in Cornwall to have better health, supporting the most vulnerable in the community.

Posted on 12 September