These are the faces of fathers, footballers, businessmen, #policeofficers — everyday blokes in the Sunshine Coast community who have battled #mental demons.
- #Males account for four out of five suicides on the Sunshine Coast, the majority are aged between 40 and 60 years of age.
- Portraits of Mankind is a photography exhibition aimed at putting a human face to men’s #mentalhealthissues.
- The Thompson Institute said the high rates of #male #suicide in the region ‘haven’t budged’ for many years
The striking images are part of a new campaign aimed at cutting #male #suicide rates in the region, which are currently nine per cent higher than the national average.
Photographer Megan Gill said she was inspired to capture the portraits after she was touched by #suicide.
“It began with a man called Shane Collins, I printed a photograph for a memorial that his friends were putting on for him,” she said.
“I just couldn’t understand why a talented, loved, young man [was] gone.
“In that moment I thought ‘I wished he could see himself through my lens’ and so began Portraits of Mankind.”
‘Portraits of Mankind’ opened yesterday at the Maroochydore RSL and runs through to November.
Ms Gill has captured images and stories of #men aged between 20 and 60 years of age from across the region, who’ve survived their #mentalhealth battles.
“It just brings so much more meaning to what I do as a photographer,” she said.
“I’m always trying to embed meaning into my work and this is something far greater than me and I look forward to continuing it.
“I think it will be my life’s work.”
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
High rates of #male #suicide haven’t ‘budged’
The exhibition is being run in partnership with the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Thompson Institute – a facility researching #mentalhealth and neurological disorders.
Director, Professor Jim Lagopoulos said rates of #suicide on the Sunshine Coast were nine per cent higher than the national average.
“#Male #suicide on the Sunshine Coast is heartbreaking,” Mr Lagopoulos said.
“Four out of five suicides on the Sunshine Coast are #males and that statistic hasn’t really budged for a while.”
Mr Lagopoulos said #males aged between 40 and 60 were the most likely to take their own lives.
“It really is a significant problem,” he said.
“What I like most about what Megan has done here, they’re just everyday blokes.”
“They really put a human side to a message of #suicideprevention.”
#Police at the forefront of portrait campaign
#Policeofficer Paul Frazer said he wanted his image featured in the exhibition to show others it was okay to speak up.
“No-one really likes to see a photo of themselves as a general rule, but for such a great cause,” he said.
“It’s an honour to represent the Queensland Police Service and to put a spotlight on it that #mentalhealth doesn’t discriminate.”
Mr Frazer is currently the acting #mentalhealth intervention coordinator for the Vulnerable Persons Unit on the Sunshine Coast.
“We ran a workshop a little while ago specifically for #policeofficers on the Sunshine Coast called Strengthening the Thin Blue Line,” he said.
“As #police, we have identified that your work colleagues are sometimes in the best position to identify how you’re travelling, sometimes you’re not the best marker with yourself.”
He said attitudes about #mentalhealth had changed dramatically in his 31 years in the police service.
“We had #policeofficers who stood up and openly told their stories and their battles of what are both good and bad, very honest and open,” he said.
“We believe that was of greatest assistance to quite a large number of #police on the Sunshine Coast.”