ACT Truckie convoy for World Suicide Prevention Day
A convoy of trucks will pass through the streets of Canberra on World Suicide Prevention Day, 10th September, to honour those who have lost their lives to suicide and support loved ones affected by a loss.
The inaugural Trek of Trades convey has been organised by I Got You – a charity set up to raise awareness about male suicide after construction worker and carpentry apprentice Joshua Clarke took his life two years ago aged 25.
“[Suicide] is a very serious topic, but for such a heavy topic, we can still do things together that don’t make it so heavy,” said his mother and co-founder of I Got You, Leesa Mountford.
The convey will lead to a barbecue hosted by the Canberra-based suicide prevention organisation for blue collar workers, OzHelp, who has received $70,000 in donations from I Got You with money raised from an online store and community fundraising activities.
“After losing Josh to suicide, OzHelp provided the I Got You village with support and counselling services, and we’re proud to be involved with the legacy that Leesa, [and her daughters] Taylor and Mackenzie have created, as well as their invaluable contribution to OzHelp,” deputy CEO Bruce Papps told The Canberra Weekly.
The convoy will start in Victoria Street, Hall, near the showground at 10am and finish at the picturesque Casuarina Sands in Cotter road.
OzHelp will have information about their services at the barbecue as well as suicide postvention program group StandbySupport After Suicide, and The Men’s Table, who have established a network of intimate dinner settings where men can connect in a trusted space.
“This [will be a] fun and informal space, with families enjoying themselves, and yet it is explicitly about suicide as well,” said Michael Collins, Men’s Table South Coast regional host.
“So there is permission to talk about how we are really doing, rather than pretending it is good. This is true for tradies where their bodies are their trade … Being mentally fit supports their ability to turn up for their business, their family, and for themselves. They might be willing to lean into a group of other men who can have their back.”
There are currently eight Men’s Tables in Canberra with eight more in the pipeline. “Men’s Table has heard from men that ‘they did not know it was possible to have real conversations until they sat at a Men’s Table’, where no fixing or solving other men is one of our key principles,” he said. “We find that once confidence and trust builds in a Table of men, men often find their relationships beyond the Table improve as well. We call this the Ripple Effect.”
Six men a day die from suicide, and 190 of these are construction workers.
“Construction is also very masculine, and speaking about feelings doesn’t come naturally. They’re told: ‘Toughen up, come on, get on with the job’ – and to talk about feelings or things that are going on is unusual,” Ms Mountford said.
“They work crazy hours as well. Taking time out to look after themselves is very unlikely …”
OzHelp said funding will be channelled to its Life Skills Toolbox, a health and wellbeing program supporting apprentices in high-risk, hard-to-reach industries.
I Got You won an ACT Suicide Prevention Australia LiFE Award this year, in the Communities In Action category. The words ‘I Got You’ were often said by Joshua, so his mother had Josh’s handwritten note printed the apparel they now sell to raise money.
“Suicide is part of our life every minute of every day,” Ms Mountford said, “and if we can do our little bit to avoid a family going through the trauma that we experienced, then that’s what we’ll do … If we can do just a little bit, or a lot, that helps us get out of bed every day.”
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