Mayor Peter Gandolfi welcomed everyone and gave a brief rundown of the evening. Late last year he was surprised to learn the number of suicides in the district, particularly mail suicides, and decided that there should be something we, as a community, should be able to do to reduce that number. From contacts made via Beyond Blue etc. he came across the relatively new Menswatch program and decided that this was the way for Wattle Range to go.
Although, initially a Menswatch only meeting was scheduled, a request was received from Adelaide University to provide some speakers on other men’s health issues on the night. Researchers from the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health gave a talk on each of their topics which included Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) testing, Bowel Cancer Screening, Coping with Stress and Anxiety, Obstructive Sleep Apnoea and Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) and Erectile Dysfunction (ED). These talks were followed by a question and answer session and then an interval before the main talk for the night.
Mayor Gandolfi introduced a local farmer Rick Hinge, who gave a deep personal insight into living with bi-polar disorder. He explained the vast difference between the highs and the great depth of the lows. He talked of the strain on his family, and how hard it was to cope with running a successful farm that he loved so much while trying to cope with his disorder. The need for good communication with his doctor while finding the right medication for his needs and the support of his family were highlighted.
The next speaker was Tim Watts from Mount Gambier. Tim told the group of how he was initially simply asked if he would like to go skiing on the Murray, a pastime he is very keen on. This simple initial request led, in a somewhat round-a-bout way, to the real reason for the question. His friend, had an idea that he would like to raise the awareness of, and some finance for, the problem of male suicide through a fun pastime. The idea grew and over the last couple of years, on the long weekend in March, a growing number of people have taken part in skiing 500 kilometres down, then up the Murray raising money for Menswatch and awareness of the problem of male suicide along the way.
Rick Hinge returned to speak about how he became involved in helping bring the problem of male suicide and Menswatch to the men of rural South Australia and how the men of this district can be given the tools needed to be able to help their mates who may have a problem. He stated that what men need, to be able to talk about their problems, is to be able to talk one on one, have trust in each other and be doing something together.
The last speaker for the night was Trevor Twilley from the SA Police Service who gave a brief insight into the scope of the suicide problem in our district and the impact on all those involved, from the para medics and emergency response teams, the police, the medical people involved to the friends and families of the victims. He was confident that our region would be very successful in having a successful Menswatch program and asked that all those present place their names and contact details on the list of interested people for the next stage of forming a local support group.
Mayor Gandolfi then closed the night by briefly explaining the next step in the process, that of fund raising to cover the cost of the three night training course for all those willing to participate. He was confident that with Council and Corporate support, the money needed would not take long to raise. He thanked all the speakers for their input and those that attended for their interest.
Information by: Stewie Pounsett and Ralph Domaschenz for 5THE FM news wattlerangenow
Editors comment: Regular Beyond Blue segments are broadcast on 5THE FM daily and help and advice is available at Beyond Blue on http://www.beyond blue.org.au or by calling 1300 224 636 24hours a day, 7 days a week or you can chat on line simply by clicking onto the ‘chat’ button 3pm to 12pm.