Lifeline's toughest challenge to tackle male suicide
THE strong silent type is how we think of the typical Australian bloke, but the country's national suicide emergency means every day six men take their own lives.
Australia's famous culture of mateship can include outdated ideas about stoicism and masculinity, so men often feel uncomfortable and don't reach out to our friends and loved ones during tough times.
Too many of our dads, brothers, sons, husbands, friends, mates and work colleagues are in such despair they cannot see another way and make up three out of four suicides in Australia.
This terrible statistic is a result of males being told told to toughen up take it like a man so they suffer in silence, until the pain is too much to bear.
On Tuesday Lifeline Australia are launching a new campaign Our Toughest Challenge Yet, to breakdown traditional male values of stoicism and masculinity, highlighting the lifesaving importance of open and non-judgemental conversations about suicide.
Lifeline Northern Rivers centre manager, Niall Mulligen said his region is liaising with government and no-government organisations to contribute to the community's well-being strategy.
He said the pain of the floods which devastated Lismore and surrounds is still being felt with men stressed about losing homes, jobs or businesses and providing for their families,and this needs to be addressed.
"Only 40% of callers to Lifeline's 13 11 14 crisis line are male, while 75 per cent of people who die by suicide are male," he said.
"We have received $40,000 of additional funding for post-flood recovery activities and we are currently recruiting volunteers to increase our capacity to respond to community needs and would be delighted to increase out number of male crisis support volunteers as some men would rather open up and talk to another man."
Mr Mulligen said if anyone is struggling with their relationship, finances, job or general health and wellbeing, they need to ask for help
"The need to reach out to a mate, a loved one or support service like Lifeline (and) while it might be tough, but it also might be the best thing you can do," he said.
The national charity's chief executive Pete Shmigel said that the Our Toughest Challenge Yet campaign focuses on the national suicide emergency and its impact on Australian men and their families.
"The Our Toughest Challenge Yet campaign showcases the strength of people who have come through the other side of immense personal challenges," Mr Shmigel said.
"We know from our more than 850,000 interactions across our 24/7 crisis support services each year that reaching out when you're struggling can be one of the toughest actions someone can take, it shows real courage."
Anyone interested in donating to Lifeline and help them answer more calls from people in their darkest moments, can call 1800 800 768 or Google Lifeline Toughest Challenge.
Ex-Army Officer Dennis Maddock called Lifeline in 2004 while experiencing immense pressure at work and trouble in his relationship.
"I've been shot at, I've ran into fires where we don't know what'sgoing to happen when we are inside the fire," he said.
"But, in terms of mental health? Itâ's the hardest thing I've ever faced."
The Our Toughest Challenge Yet campaign features an ex-NRL player, an ex-Army Officer and an ex-Emergency Services Officer and asks the question: What's tougher? Military service, professional football, the emergency services, or telling someone you're not OK?
For 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp