When Australian radio host, TV personality and founder of Gotcha4Life, Gus Worland, visited Form1 he had one message. How do we build mental fitness, social connection and resilience in order to prevent suicide? What transpired after one hour with Gus changed our lives, and our relationships, forever.
Gus Worland is a compassionate guy. He’s our kinda guy. He is passionate about people and has devoted his life to helping reverse the decline in mental health and reduce suicide throughout Australia.
The radio hosts life was turned upside down after a good friend, and mentor, took his own life. The silver lining from this devastating experience is that Gus is not afraid to talk about his emotions, and he enjoys inspiring other men to do the same.
It was this life-changing moment, and Gus’ TV show Man Up on the ABC,that prompted him to launch Gotcha4Life – a non-for-profit foundation dedicated to taking action and having a positive outcome on mental health.
“Gotcha4Life came off the back of a program I did, Man Up, for the ABC. It’s had more than 78 million views now. I’m so proud of it. It’s by far the most important thing I’ve ever done,” he says. “I went on a journey to figure out why a friend of mine took his own life. Here was a guy I thought had everything covered. He had a beautiful wife, family, job; he seemed to have it all. And I loved him like a brother.”
After this Gus began to investigate mental health in Australia only to discover the number one way to lose your life as an Australian male between 15 and 44 is to take your own life.
“We lose six men every single day and the most important thing to acknowledge is, ‘It’s OK to not be OK.”
Finding a Gotcha4Life mate
It’s a cliched and old notion that men are not overly emotional beings, in the same way women are often accused of being ‘too’ emotional. Is there really such a thing? Now, as a community, a society and a workforce, the real question is, how do we support men and women to tap into their emotions, open up their hearts and expose their vulnerability?
Form1 staff were lucky enough to share some time with Gus to talk about this very topic, and engage with his message about the importance of building mental fitness, social connection, emotional muscle and resilience.
“We had staff across our four offices – Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra and the Central Coast, including everyone in the field – tune in for Gus’ talk. I found him extremely inspiring. He is down to earth and someone I can relate to,’ says Form1 CEO, Steve Shirlaw.
“He spoke about the deaths in Australia from Coronavirus (around 266 at the time), but a worse statistic was the 1200 suicides that had also occurred.”
Gus believes no one should have to tackle any kind of mental health issue on their own which is why it’s so important to find a mate who has Gotcha4Life.
“I’ve often said we all need one person to believe in us. One person is all it takes sometimes to make a difference. If you know you have one person to call on, you can get through anything, no matter how hard it gets,” says Steve.
During the workshop Gus gave us one simple task. Get out your phone and type this message: “I love you and I miss you! I look forward to seeing you soon.”
He asked everyone to send it on to someone they hadn’t connected with or seen in a while. Many people took the initiative to send it to more than one person. It was 9am in the morning and insightful to hear some of the replies. From the heart warming, ‘Thanks mate. I love you too. Let’s catch up soon,’ to the hilarious, ‘Are you drunk?’
Gus’ point is that it doesn’t take much to reach out and connect with someone. And if we can all find a Gotcha4Life mate, we might just get one step closer to Gus’ dream of zero suicides.
Gotcha4Life funds educational workshops and innovative training programs throughout Australia that build mental fitness in individuals, organisations and communities to activate strong, open and binding relationships.
“At some point we will all experience trauma and how we get through it is so important. I will be doing more Gotcha4Life workshops and offering them to all our staff. I want to be more resilient for myself and those I care for,” says Steve.
The truth about suicide
In 2017 there were 65,300 suicide attempts in Australia, with over 3123 resulting in death.
More than eight people die each day in Australia by suicide.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between 15 and 44 years of age.
75% of people who died by suicide are typically male and 25% females.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2017