Aussie Men Over 80 Suicide The Most, But You Can Help Change That
We're all familiar with the familial reminders. 'You need to visit your grandparents more often!' It's advice we could all do with bearing in mind - but equally importantly, there are some elderly people who either don't have anyone to visit them, or who don't see anyone on a regular basis. That can cause loneliness, anxiety and in some cases severe depression.
A shocking statistic has emerged, which estimates that while suicide is the leading cause of death for men aged 14-44, the rate of suicide deaths per 100,000 is highest in men aged 80 and older.
Think about that for a second: elderly Aussie men have a higher proportional rate of suicide than any other group in the country.
Check out the video, where Ernie explains how people just don't seem to want to chat any more.
Credit: Spur Projects
To help address this tragic trend, a new campaign has been started called #OLDMATE.
Aussies love referring to virtually anyone as 'old mate' ('How's old mate going?' 'Did you hear what old mate said the other day?'), and we always somehow know who the person is referring to. But this campaign is meant to spark friendships with older Australians.
As Spur Projects Chief Executive and co-founder Lee Crockford tells LADbible: "Mental health can be complex - and so we're always careful to not oversimplify the matter. However, some of the key contributing factors to poor mental health are living with illness, loss of independence, loss of connectivity (isolation), loss of purpose, and stoic beliefs that prevent help-seeking."
Those factors are highly prevalent in the older community.
There are so many campaigns, initiatives and information on young people taking their own lives, but this older group is often overlooked, despite being at the biggest risk. Mr Crockford adds: "I just don't think many people aware of the statistics.
Credit: Spur Projects
"The other, tremendously sad, factor is that some people think resources are better spent on younger people than 'people who have already lived their lives'.
"Of course, we vehemently reject that attitude. We believe that if we can improve anyone's mental health, then we should make as much effort to do so regardless of age, gender, sexuality, race, etc. It's as simple as that."
South Australia widower Jay Johnstone posted a heart-breaking ad on Gumtree earlier this year, looking for a fishing buddy after his usual angler mate died. The 75-year-old was flooded with offers and it even sparked a viral hashtag of #Illfishwithray.
Mati Batsinilas offered to take Ray on an all-expenses-paid tour of Stradbroke Island, flying him from Adelaide to Morton Bay, where he was given a room and food for three days.
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Credit: Mati Batsinilas
The 22-year-old tells LADbible: "This was an adventure for the both of us. Ray had a ball, I don't think he had eaten so much food in his life. I had my family come over to the island with us and my mum literally did not stop cooking (typical Greek mother). We did some awesome fishing, four-wheel-driving and heaps of exploring around the island.
"What I did feel throughout this experience was, I made sure that I treated Ray like a mate, rather than treating him like most people would treat their grandparents. In the beginning he was very quiet, and from what I saw he felt old and was constantly saying, 'I'm not as young as I used to be.'
"My goal was to make him feel like age was just a number, and to experience a trip on Stradbroke island. We had a couple of beers, laughed like good mates would and most importantly just had a really good time."
The young bloke comes from a family that always looks out for each other and was surprised that his request generated so much attention. He tells us that you don't have to pay for someone to fly across the country to help someone's mental health.
Mati's message to young Aussies and anyone around the world is to try and do something with an older person.
Credit: Mati Batsinilas
"Don't just see the elderly as 'old people'," he says. "They have seen everything we have, and are wiser than one could imagine. My conversations with Ray were the same conversations I would have with my 23-year-old mates and that's why I feel like we bonded well.
"The best advice I could give is: just be you. Don't try and be this perfect human and think you will be judged as the 'younger generation'. Yeah, we have grown up in two very different times, but we can relate with the elderly much more than you would think."
Spur Projects has a bunch of resources available for those who want to get involved in the project, and they can even match you up with an Old Mate. More than 100,000 people have taken the pledge on their website, which asks people to commit to spending at least one hour a month with an Old Mate.
Lee tells us: "I think when the topic of mental health is brought up, people instantly default to 'Well, I'm not a mental health professional. How could I possibly help?'
"Participants don't need to know the first thing about mental health to get involved.
"Teaching your Old Mate a new recipe or going for a bike ride together will help improve their mental health. It's easy, casual and requires zero expertise. It's not rocket science."
Take the pledge here and together we can help drive down those harrowing statistics.
'U OK M8?' is an initiative from LADbible in partnership with a range of mental health charities which features a series of films and stories to raise awareness of mental health.
Explore more here and don't suffer in silence. Reach out. It's the brave thing to do.
Featured Image Credit: Spur Projects