Local footy nut Matt Cooney knows first hand how deadly silence can be. His good friend from school committed suicide and his family’s life was shattered when his brother-in-law also took his life.
With the help of his four mates, he is now encouraging local sporting clubs to help his charity, Kick 2 Kick 4 A Cause, punt the stigma surrounding mental health and to raise a conversation among men that silence is deadly.
The group of middle-aged men will put their love of footy towards a good cause and will take part in a 24-hour marathon game of kick-to-kick to raise money and awareness for Menslink.
Kicking off at 4 pm on 16 March, over 120 people will kick the footy to each other on Deakin Oval for exactly 24 hours, all in the name of charity.
Nearly 3,000 people commit suicide in Australia every year, 75 per cent of those being male and the charity has set its sights on doing what it can to help reduce those numbers.
“The first time we ran this event was last year and we raised $55,000 which we donated to Menslink,” Mr Cooney said. “Our initial thought when we were sitting around a table for lunch was that we could raise $5,000. It just grew and grew which is fantastic.”
The 53-year-old is confident the 24-hour event will surpass last year’s total and hopes to bring the total of money raised to more than $110,000.
“It is really important to promote the awareness of mental health among men who particularly don’t like to talk about their problems too much,” he shared.
“Mental health is among all of us. It doesn’t just affect the poor or the infirm. Regardless of our background, mental health can affect every one of us. Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t see the signs until its all too late.”
Menslink chief Martin Fisk said the money received from the charity event will help them reach more than 10,000 young men with their Silence is Deadly program.
“This year we are looking to go into more than 100 primary schools, high schools and colleges around the territory and the region,” Mr Fisk said. “We receive no Government funding whatsoever so having the Kick 2 Kick 4 A Cause people behind gives us a platform to fund that program and go to schools and promote the message that silence is deadly.”
Mr Fisk said the program trains boys as young as 10 years how to cultivate the determination and resilience to withstand trials whether that be the stress of exams, relationship breakdown, bullying or domestic violence.
“We have been running the program in 60-odd high schools and colleges for the past six years and we have only run the program for the past six months in primary schools,” Mr Fisk said.
“There are 100 primary schools so there are another 60 more schools we want to reach.
“We are now seeing 10-years-old struggle with family violence, serious suicide attempts and drug use which is really disturbing. The more we can get in and work with these young fellas the better off we all will be.”
Visit their website for more information on how to register or donate.