South west Sydney men share their stories in fight against suicide

Tahmoor's John Van de Putte. Picture: We Are Men
Tahmoor's John Van de Putte. Picture: We Are Men

Ten men from across south-west Sydney have banded together in a series of videos for a new suicide prevention campaign.

Whether it's watching rom-coms, letting their daughters paint their nails or sharing stories about their mental health journeys, these men don't hold back giving viewers an insight into what it is like to be a man in today's society.

The video series, called We Are Men, focuses on men across various ages, ethnicities, abilities and walks of life.

The project's co-lead Epiphany Mason said the campaign, funded by the South West Sydney Primary Health Network Proactive Approaches to Men's Suicide Prevention tender, was developed to target men in the south-western Sydney region.

"This is a very important issue for my co-lead on the project, Carl Mason," she said.

"Carl has had multiple people in his family die from suicide so he came up with this idea to get men talking about their mental health and the struggles they face."

Ms Mason said each participant in the series, which included men from Macarthur, Liverpool and Fairfield, was asked why men felt less inclined to speak about their issues than women.

"They all answered it in their own words, but they all agreed that it was the gender culture that is projected onto them their whole lives," she said.

Minto's Charlie Freun. Picture: We Are Men

Minto's Charlie Freun. Picture: We Are Men

"One of our speakers, Hamani Tanginoa from Camden said he was always told to 'drink a cup of concrete' when talking about his mental health.

"It's the way men are expected to be in our society but now there is undeniable science that actually shows that bottling up your emotions or hiding them away is just so toxic.

"It's not good enough to say 'forget about it and move on' anymore."

Community leaders from across the south west share their stories on the video, including Wollondilly councillor Blair Briggs and Fairfield Navitas English community liaison officer Basim Shamoan.

Mr Shamoan said he decided to take part in the project to help other men.

"There is a stigma around mental health, not just in the Middle Eastern community which I am a part of, but in all communities," he said.

"I want men, but also people in general, to look at these videos and not feel any shame or embarrassment for the way that they feel.

"We all go through these things so hopefully the videos will encourage people to speak out."

Mr Shamoan said the series highlighted that men should speak out about their emotions.

"The perception is that the community will see a man as being weak for speaking out, but that is wrong," he said.

"If you don't feel comfortable reaching out to family or friends, the best place to start is with your GP. There is help out there."

Liverpool's Ian Forest-Jones. Picture: We Are Men

Liverpool's Ian Forest-Jones. Picture: We Are Men

We Are Men is available at www.wearemen.com.au, www.facebook.com/wearemenAU and through the free app, Onlyhuman (www.onlyhumanapp.com - launching in May).

Ms Mason encouraged men, and their loved ones, to take a look at the videos.

"It's a really great way to gain some understanding on perspective on what men, or those who identify as men, are feeling," she said.

"And if you are a man it's a great way to know that you are not alone.

"We hope that this series can help to redefine 'manhood' and break the stigma on mental health.

"We want men in crisis or even those who are just having a dodgy day, to know that it is okay, you can reach out for help."

This story South-west Sydney men share their stories in fight against suicide first appeared on Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser.