Be a ‘Man of More Words’, says suicide survivor

Daryl Brown, who is a suicide survivor. Photo: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency (ANA)

Daryl Brown, who is a suicide survivor. Photo: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 11, 2018


“When things get tough, men need to talk, reach out, take action, and look after themselves and each other.”

This was the message from Daryl Brown of the West Coast, who tried to take his own life by throwing himself in front of a train due to depression. He survived but had to have both legs amputated.

Speaking at a World Suicide Prevention Day event held at the Silo District at the Waterfront yesterday, Brown said he was overwhelmed by depression that had haunted him since childhood and decided to end his life in 2013.

Brown was among three people sitting in barber chairs at the event. Christine Wessels, who lost her boyfriend to suicide, and Cape Mental Health social worker Jonathan Manuel sat by his side at the Movember SA initiative.

The awareness campaign encourages men to talk, under the theme of “Man of More Words”.

“Being depressed is nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes the greatest courage a man can show is to admit that he needs help. Talking about problems is a sign of strength, not of weakness,” Brown said.

“It is so important that men should realise that they do not have to struggle alone. We are not very good at sharing the stories of our struggles. 

"As men, we feel that we have to deal with everything ourselves, and the consequences of going it alone can be devastating.”

For Wessels no matter how much the sufferer feels they are not needed, life without the person is never better for those left behind. Wessels’ photographer boyfriend Garth Stead took his life nine years ago.

“People tell you that you can’t be responsible for someone else’s life, but the truth is that we are all left with questions. What if I had answered his last message sooner? What if I had done more? What if I had somehow persuaded him to talk to someone, or take medication? I don’t go a day without missing him and wondering if things could have been different,” she said.

According to Men’s Foundation founder and chief executive Garron Gsell, barbers often provide the safe space where men feel free to talk, especially when times get tough, in the confidence that they will be heard.

“Too many men try to deal with challenges on their own and suffer in silence. We’re hoping to show men that talking saves lives.”

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