My friend Jerry is back, or least back from his trip around Australia in his ‘Flying Hanky’ – a motorised parachute –it looks for all the world like a flying lawnmower – raising funds and raising awareness about Suicide and Depression. He arrived in Melbourne on Monday the 15th of Dec 2008 at 7:35am, after flying 12,127 kilometres “ the first person in international aviation history to successfully complete such a feat!”
You can see the clip on his or my Facebook page.
A bit over a year ago Jerry was himself in the pit of despair and contemplating suicide but was helped by a counsellor at Beyond Blue. Since then he has fallen out of the sky periodically, had all kinds of mechanical problems and been grounded by bad weather, but has met fantastic people and seen some amazing scenery along the way.
He has however, also seen much tragedy, especially in rural Australia where both isolation and the macho culture conspire against people - especially males, speaking about their problems to others. For this reason, as well as giving lots of talks to community groups, he has even given Cuban Dance lessons to help raise funds for the employment of more rural counsellors.
The statistics are staggering. According to Jerry, (these are from his Website, see below)
- Nearly as many men die from Suicide each year as they do from Diabetes - 2.5 per cent of all male deaths are from suicide, 2.6 per cent are from Diabetes.
- More people (both men and women) die from suicide than the national road toll
- Amongst men aged 20-44 years of age, suicide accounts for around a third of all deaths.
- For every man who dies by suicide, approximately four others will have tried to take their own life. This equates to more than 6000 men only.
- A counsellor will answer on average 1700 calls in a year
- 1700 suicided (males only) in the year 2007
- Statistically, 4.6 men suicided everyday in the year 2007
- In 2006, more than 1 in 5 deaths of males between 20-25 was due to suicide (source: ABS)
- Jerry believes the stigma associated with depression is a major contributing factor that leads to suicide
Luckily, Jerry arrived back to a media splash just in time for Christmas, usually the peak suicide season and the phone lines of counselling services ran hot.
If you are feeling depressed or someone you know is at risk of suicide or you are grieving because someone you know has suicided, ring the Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467. Their counseling services are free. Beyond Blue's phone number is 1300 224636. There are some very interesting and topical articles on their website too such as "Taking care of yourself after retrenchment or financial loss" and some of the latest research into this widespread condition:
Meanwhile, Jerry is now recuperating in Japan and preparing to write a book about his adventures. If you want to read more or help in some way, check out his website: www.overdownunder.com.au
Well done Jerry and Happy Birthday too!