Tragic loss shines light on men's health issues
Published at: 14 Jun 2019
June 10-16 marks Men's Health Week and Goulburn Valley Health made sure the many tradesmen on site for the hospital's redevelopment joined in the affair. Lendlease staff heard from GV Health prostate cancer support nurse Sonia Strachan, GV Health bowel cancer support nurse Katie Emanuelli and local man Tom Crawford who shared his heartbreaking story at a special breakfast last week.
Tatura’s Tom Crawford believes that if his brothers had spoken up, they would still be here today.
The mental health advocate, who addressed a room full of Lendlease tradesmen last week, knows all too well the harmful effects of not seeking help.
Mr Crawford shared his heartbreaking story at Goulburn Valley Health’s Men’s Health Week breakfast on Thursday last week which highlighted the issues facing men’s health.
According to the Men’s Heath Week website, more males die at every stage through the life span, more males have accidents, more males take their own lives and more males suffer from lifestyle-related health conditions than females at the same age.
Mr Crawford addressed the 100-strong crowd of tradesmen working on GV Health’s redevelopment about losing his two older brothers to suicide in the space of around three years.
He told those in attendance, he was the youngest of four siblings and grew up with older brothers Andrew and Jonathon on the family farm at Toolamba.
Mr Crawford painted the picture of a normal life spent with a loving family.
“I never thought anything like this would happen to us,” he said.
“We thought we were invincible.”
But in 2011, Mr Crawford lost his brother Andrew to suicide.
It was something that took the family by surprise, with Andrew having been a successful young man.
“Andrew was smart, attractive and good at sport; he had it all going on for him,” he said.
Mr Crawford said he had been suffering from his own battles at the time and the news only pushed him into a darker space.
“It turned my life and my family’s life upside down,” he said.
The year following the tragic event, Mr Crawford said he was in shock.
Shock soon turned to anger as he tried to deal with the loss of his older brother, then, Mr Crawford’s world came crashing down once again.
“Then my other brother took his life,” he said.
Among the dreadful grief, Mr Crawford said he turned to alcohol to mask the pain of losing both of his older brothers.
“There is a culture of not speaking (among men),” he said.
“I reckon that’s bull****; if my brothers had of spoken up, I reckon they’d probably still be here today.”
He encouraged other men to break down the stigma around sharing their feelings and to chat with their mates when something was wrong.
The tragic death of his brothers resulted in Mr Crawford sharing his story with the aim of preventing others doing the same.
“I have a Facebook page Tom Crawford – Mental Health Advocate,” he said.
Suicide prevention is just one of the many issues highlighted during Men’s Health Week.
According to the Men’s Health Week website, men take their own lives at four times the rate of women meaning five men take their lives each day, on average.
The Beyond Blue website reiterated what Mr Crawford said about men’s tendencies to not speak up.
For those making a living from the land, there is some evidence to suggest that the farm environment is hazardous to mental health, with farmers experiencing high rates of stress and depression,” their website read.
“In Australia, male farmers die by suicide at rates significantly higher than the general population and non-farming rural males.”
For more information visit the Beyond Blue or Men’s Health Week websites. If you need support, call Kids Helpline (1800 551 800), Lifeline on 131 114, the suicide callback service on 1300 659 467 or visit ReachOut.com