Aussie Men Say #ItsOkayToTalk, Changing The Conversation Around Suicide

Talking about suicide to prevent it.

18/08/2016 1:26 PM AEST | Updated 18/08/2016 4:39 PM AEST
Beau Ryan: Instagram
NRL personality Beau Ryan gets on board the #ItsOkayToTalk campaign.

Thousands of Aussie men are getting on board a social media campaign raising awareness for suicide prevention and changing the conversation around mental health.

The #ItsOkayToTalk campaign began with a UK rugby player, Luke Ambler, deciding to take the conversation (or lack of conversation) around mental health into his own hands after his brother-in-law Andy Roberts took his own life very suddenly.

Ambler started 'Andy's Man Club' in July, which provides a safe place for men to have a cup of tea and get their problems off their chest. But Ambler wanted to reach more men than just those in Halifax so he created the social media campaign to extend the depth of the conversation nationwide.

The #ItsOkayToTalk campaign garnered attention from UK celebrities like Ricky Gervais, but now it has gone global, trickling down under with Aussie celebrities and regular blokes continuing to raise awareness for the leading cause of death in young men.

The concept is simple. Post a selfie while doing the okay sign with your hand, along with the hashtag #ItsOkayToTalk. Then tag five mates to do the same.

It's important to note the suicide rates in young men which are frequently mentioned in the campaign post are UK statistics.

But in Australia, the leading cause of death in Aussie males aged between 15 and 44 is also suicide.

In 2014, 2864 Australians took their own lives. This is almost eight people per day -- one every three hours.

There are also seven suicide attempts every hour nationwide.

Lifeline Australia CEO Pete Shmigel told The Huffington Post Australia males account for about three in four suicides in Australia, however there's been an increase in female suicide over the past decade.

"We know the power of connection and compassion and that a simple conversation can truly help someone bounce back from their darkest point," Shmigel told HuffPost Australia.

Lifeline is not aligned with the campaign but supports any campaign aiming to break down the barriers in the conversation around mental health and suicide. The mental health crisis support group encourages conversations beyond social media too.

"I encourage Australians, strongly and genuinely, to do what Lifeline has been doing for more than 50 years; making it so people don't have to suffer in silence," Shmigel said.

"Good old-fashioned care and compassion can go a long way. It can save a life."

Shout out to a few Aussie blokes doing their part to keep the conversation around mental health growing.

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 131114. For further information about depression, contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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