Suicide sparks rural community into action on men’s mental health

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“There was a few guys that came together and the idea was sparked that maybe we form the Mingenew Gringos,” he said.”We start growing moustaches and the moustache is the trigger for when you see another man. The suicide of a well-respected member of the farming community has sparked the small Wheatbelt community of Mingenew, in Western Australia’s Midwest into action.In a community of fewer than 500 people, 40 men raised a collective $80,000, putting them in the top three Movember fundraising teams nationally.It was at a memorial in late October that the small group of men came together and began talking about mental health issues. If you or anyone you know needs help:Lifeline on 13 11 14Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36Headspace on 1800 650 890 Spokesperson Anthony Smyth said many had not been aware their friend had been struggling with depression.”It came as quite a shock,” he said.”That was really the inspiration and the catalyst to get us together to try and raise some more awareness in rural communities and try and start getting guys talking more about the mental health issues that they’re facing and struggling with on a daily basis.”Mates checking on matesIt was from this discussion that the Mingenew Gringos were formed to participate in Movember and raise funds and awareness of men’s health issues. That’s the trigger point to start talking about why they’re growing it and about men’s health and it has been working really well.”Mr Smyth said the discussions about mental health and in particular depression had been even more important than the fundraising.”A couple of guys who didn’t know that one was struggling with some mental health problems are now talking on a daily basis,” he said.”[We have been] sitting in the header cabs together sharing and getting that awareness out there and helping each other through, so that’s been really positive.”Fundraising exceeds expectations Mr Smyth said the money raised and the involvement of the community had surprised everyone.”It’s been amazing, the amount of generosity and the amount of support to the Gringos has been quite outstanding,” he said.The fundraising culminated in a cricket match and social event but the plan is to make it an ongoing community program. Planning is already underway for an event focussed on women and the supporting role they play in men’s health and relationships.
ABC Mid West and Wheatbelt

By

Natasha Harradine

Updated

December 06, 2017 11:20:10

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The Mingenew Gringos fundraising culminated in a cricket match and social event. (Supplied: Justine Rowe)