Thursday, 18 May 2017

Men's mental and physical health and suicide prevention

The world found out that the 18th May 2017 marked the day that a legendary rock musician - who I, like so many others have followed and been amazed by his vocal talents and song writing abilities - had taken his own life after on-going battles with drugs, booze and depression.

Rock radio stations are dedicating entire days to his music, social media is alive with his name and kind words.
Chris Cornell - Soundgarden and Audioslave front-man - has gone. 
Reports all say he hung himself in a hotel room. Apparently there was no warning, no cries for help, he had just finished another successful concert in Detroit. 

He leaves behind a wife, three kids, close friends, fans and an amazing charity foundation that developed projects and programs with leading charitable organisations and partners raising awareness and mobilising support for children facing tough challenges including homelessness, poverty, abuse and/or neglect. 

This guy seemed to have it all together - and perhaps that's a HUGE warning to the rest of us.

As such a longtime fan, I saw him at Soundwave in Brisbane. He was the epitome of rock-god cool, a genuine connection to the crowd and a vocal range that easily took in 4 octaves. He, Myles Kennedy (Alterbridge) and Mike Patton (FNM) have always been vocalists I have aspired to sing like but can never quite get there, the awe around their talent and hard-earned skill impressive to say the least.

But with all of those things outwardly going for him, he was human just like the rest of us. 

Whilst I luckily cant understand what it takes to drive someone to those depths, or the emotional turmoil that could be strong enough to push someone so far beyond help that for them, there can be no way back, it does raise serious action points for all of us to consider.

When was the last time you "checked in" with those around you? Just to make sure they were okay?

When was the last time you looked at someone you know and consider successful and asked if everything is okay with them?

When was the last time you just took time out from your busy life, just to look around and see if you can identify someone who might need some help? Look beyond the facade's that everyone puts up?

Consider people you don't know too. Where is the harm in tweeting someone famous or well known that has somehow given you the vibe that they might not be alright? Or just contact them out of the blue and write a heartfelt "you are amazing" message to them. 

As human beings, do you really think they manage to ignore every single negative tweet, FB post or magazine article written about them?

If they are hiding their depression as so may creative people do, how easy do you think it will be for them when they read the real harsh/nasty stuff on the internet about them? Think you could cope if the roles were reversed? Employ some empathy. 

I would like to think we could all cope if given the circumstances, but the truth is probably quite a leap from that, no pun intended.

So here is the call to action.

As part of the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride where we try to raise awareness for men’s mental health and prostate cancer, the biggest gaps seems to be openness and inactivity.

There will always be the tragedies like Chris Cornell (and others not at all famous) but still dealing with issues they can’t get past. There will always be those who leave without warning, those who have put up years’ worth of the facade that no one got to see behind. 
I wish there weren’t any people like them, but the truth is different.

But we can make a difference, you and I.

And it’s not that hard to do. Two words we need to follow and act upon – 

“Pay Attention”

What do I mean? 

Pay attention to everyone around you. Pay attention to yourself.

Pay attention to things that might seem irrelevant initially, but might not be so irrelevant to someone else.

Pay attention to peoples expressions. It’s true that the eyes have it. Take a look, see if there is anything of concern there. If you can’t see anything, ask them.

Pay attention to things that people say/write/do – listen more than talk. It’s amazing what you can discover and the impact you can have on someone who just needs to have someone pay attention to them, sometimes when they don’t realise it themselves.

Pay attention to your environment and make a difference. Take an active part in the world, try to feel for those you come into contact with, regardless of whether they are famous or not. Everyone is human. Treat them that way.

Open your heart and get it done. You know you can. All you need to do is try.

To Vicky Cornell, their children, their family and all the children they have helped through their foundation, but also to everyone who has ever lost someone to suicide, on behalf of everyone worldwide, we offer our deepest, heartfelt condolences and offers of support to you. Our thoughts are with you. We wish we could help, just give you a hug whenever you needed one, let you know you are connected, supported more than you know.

Suicide needs to be addressed and the support in place for those left behind.

If you're reading this post - please pay attention. Then do something. I don't think its too much to ask. 

Chris Cornell (born Christopher John Boyle)
July 20th, 1964 - May 18th, 2017

NZ helplines (all 24hrs)
NZ Lifeline - 0800 543 354 
Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 
Youthline - 0800 376633 
Kidsline - 0800 543754 
Whatsup - 0800 9428787  
Depression Hotline - 0800 111757

Take care of yourselves and others.