Dark episodes in his life have led to a Ballarat identity devoting himself to a vital cause.
Greg Walsh, known for a career in construction and development and who has also had extensive charity involvement, has too often lost family members, friends, and associates to suicide.
Behind the surface of the engaging 62 year-old, there is a drive to help others. Tragedy compels him to selflessly act to save lives.
"I understand the impact of being affected by suicide of a loved one," Mr Walsh said.
"I personally have lost two brothers, close mates, and many other people to suicide.
"The sudden loss of someone close is horrific. It comes with a life sentence of anguish."
When Mr Walsh refers to his late brothers, Noel, who died 19, and Damien, who was in his 40s, grief remains apparent.
Mr Walsh is concerned about society's reluctance to discuss suicide. He refers to certain deaths being classified as car fatalities when in fact suicide was the cause. For Mr Walsh, Ballarat's suicide rate is particularly worrying.
"The statistics surrounding suicide are very poor for a civilised community," he said.
Raising awareness among the community is essential, according to Mr Walsh. He believes the suicide rate would decline if given attention similar to that of COVID-19 or the road toll.
"If there was a daily premier's news conference, I believe suicide would be halved overnight," Mr Walsh predicted.
Mr Walsh feels, just as road deaths have reduced over time, deaths due to suicide can too.
"When I was in my teens, the road toll in Victoria was 1100 and I went to three funerals the same year for young adults.
"Through education, schools, paper, radio, TV, hefty penalties, and education, the community now does not accept such a large number of deaths and carnage of our youths on the roads."
Mr Walsh is confident the taboo problem of Ballarat's high male suicide rate can be tackled.
"Suicide is such a hard word to say and hear," he said. "I believe things can be turned around with enlightenment and education. I am very positive we can reverse the suicide trend. Every life matters."
In an attempt to address the consequences which can stem from poor mental health among men, Mr Walsh launched an annual golf day five years ago to help address the issue.
This year, having previously backed national charities, Mr Walsh decided the golf day should be dedicated to supporting a local mental health service provider.
"The Ballarat annual golf day was an initiative I started to raise awareness in support of suicide prevention and men's mental health," Mr Walsh said.
"This year, money raised will go directly back into the Ballarat community."
For Mr Walsh, playing on his beloved scenic course on November 12 will be another important step in a long journey.
Golf day to raise funds for Ballarat Men's Mental Health
A sport known for bringing individuals together is fittingly being used to support a new men's mental health body.
The Ballarat Men's Mental Health golf day is to be held at the Ballarat Golf Club on Friday November 12. Funds raised will go towards Ballarat Men's Mental Health, a service to focus on early mental health intervention for males. In addition, the Ballarat Golf Club itself aims to recruit 2000 ongoing $2-a-week donors to help pay for BMMH staff.
Prior to competition starting at noon on the day, a barbecue will be offered from 11am. Then, it is hoped up to 100 golfers will begin teeing-off to compete for a gold jacket. To quench the thirst of those vying for glory, a drinks cart will be on the course throughout.
Following the contest, participants can retire to the George Hotel for a function. Drinks will be available at bar prices and finger food will be supplied. Guests will be able to partake in raffles and have the chance to win door prizes. Trophies and the coveted gold jacket will be presented to deserved winners.
To register for the event, visit www.ballaratmmh.com/going-for-gold
IN OTHER NEWS
The game plan
The chairman of Ballarat Men's Mental Health is committed to helping men dealing with mental health issues and those at risk of suicide.
"Many hundreds - if not thousands - of people in the Ballarat area have been affected either directly or indirectly by suicide," Andrew McPherson said. "With the support of the community, we plan to bring hope to this distressing situation and provide a dedicated service to support at-risk men and their families."
The golf day on November 12 is set to play an important role.
"Golf attracts a lot of men and we felt it would be an ideal opportunity to highlight what we are trying to achieve," Mr McPherson said. "When approached to be the beneficiaries, we were very grateful and we are delighted to participate."
Mr McPherson wants to remove the stigma associated with male suicide and to get BMMH up and running.
"We hope to help normalise discussion," he said. "We hope to raise our profile and to recruit regular donors so we can get our service operational."
If you or someone you know needs support:
- headspace Ballarat 5304 4777
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Mensline Australia Line 1300 789 978
- Kids Help 1800 55 1800
- Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
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