It’s been little more than a week since the Barossa Council’s Suicide Prevention Forum, but already Dan Eggleton of Tanunda has had members of the community reach out to him.
Dan was invited by Mayor Bim Lange to speak at the Forum on May 13 to share key aspects of the implementation of a cultural shift that he and the committee led at the Tanunda Football Club during his time as President, as an example of how similar strategies could be encouraged across the wider community in the context of a Suicide Prevention Network (SPN).
“Success on the field wasn’t my primary objective,” said Dan.
“As a competitive footballer, I love the game, but it’s a game. I think there’s greater attributes to involvement in an organisation in your community, than just the results at the end of the activity. It’s about building better people. The changes can be subtle, but they also can be profound.”
Dan has been surprised by the rapid response to the Forum, and admits to being caught a bit off guard.
“I’ve had a couple of people reach out to me that have been directly affected by either feelings of depression or suicide and that’s been hard for me to process, but it did highlight that there’s a distinct need,” he said.
“The ability to have that non-judgemental, non-denominational sort of framework—I gather what it was like 100 years ago in the community when the village could raise the child, before global events like war that left men particularly feeling like they can’t speak openly… I think that’s something that we’ve lost, the ability to do that.”
More than 200 South Australians took their own lives in 2017, with intentional self-harm being the 13th leading cause of death in Australia.
Men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women.
It’s a topic Dan is passionate about, having suffered from elements of depression himself.
“Going back to 2010, I accessed Beyond Blue very heavily. I went through a pretty huge downturn in myself personally,” he said.
“It would have been easy to do something horrible to myself, however I have been fortunate to have great support from my family and friends to allow me to rebuild.”
The aim of a SPN, of which there are 39 already established in Council regions across SA, is to provide a community designed and led support network to offer help and information, and break down stigma by normalising conversations around suicide and mental health.
It’s an initiative of the Office of the Premier’s Advocate for Suicide Prevention, with each newly formed group having access to $5,000 funding to assist with its establishment.
Dan believes that it’s an excellent opportunity for community leaders from a range of sectors, including business, government and charitable, to step up and lead the way.
“That cohort need to get together and decide on what they want this to look like, what the fabric effect is going to be and how then that can wrap around our community and uplift it,” he said.
“Kind of like a big warm hug.”
If you or someone you know needs support, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. You can also contact your GP.