JOHN Shanahan wants Clunes and Buninyong football and netball uniforms to really get people talking about post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide.
He wants his legacy to be in ensuring these are not dirty words. He wants people to know depressions and anxiety have no boundaries and do not discriminate.
His son Nathan, a fireman and former solider, had been accepted into SAS training but withdrew to help his wife care for their ill baby daughter. Nathan was successful and a humble achiever.
Nathan took his own life exactly six months ago.
Emblazoned across the Buninyong football and netball uniforms will be the silhouette of Nathan Shanahan on his Walking off the War Within mission, a 400-kilometre trek from his Mildura home to Adelaide to raise awareness.
Rival Clunes will sport their Anzac Day uniforms in a joint commemoration for the inaugural Shanahan Cup in their Central Highlands clash next week.
“After Nathan did that big walk, he did a lot of public speaking about PTSD and mental health. Unfortunately, he couldn’t overcome his own demons,” Mr Shanahan said.
“Suicide is now overtaking the road toll and is getting to be the biggest killer in Australia – it is something we can’t keep shelving and can’t hide...I am sad, but now I feel my legacy for him is to continue. If we want to sit back and do nothing, it will just keep getting swept under the carpet.”
The Shanahan family was humbled to be approached from the Buninyong and Clunes clubs to support an cup in Nathan’s honour.
Mr Shanahan taught at Clunes Primary School where his children, including Nathan, attended. The family has strong ties to Buninyong Football Netball Club and Nathan is also buried the town.
All money raised from the day will boost the work of Solider On, which supports men and women physically or psychologically affected by their service.
Eight weeks ago the Shanahans received an email from the family of a man who was the 82nd Army personnel to die in the past six months. Mr Shanahan said that was far too many to ignore.
He hoped the Cup would be ongoing, with a chance to evolve in supporting other mental health initiatives.
Where to find help
There is a wealth of professional support for men to seek help for mental or physical help. The key message is that you are not alone.
This can include:
Lifeline: 13 11 14 for 24 hours/seven days a week crisis support or lifeline.org.au
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 or beyondblue.org.au
Suicide Callback Service: 1300 659 467
Mens line: 1300 789 978 or mensline.org.au
Survivors of Suicide: 0449 913 535
Relationships Australia: 1800 050 321
headspace Ballarat (for 12-25s and parent support): 5304 4777
Solider On: 1300 620 380
Western Bulldogs’ Sons of the West: 5331 6966 (Sports Central)
Ballarat Community Health: 5338 4500
QLife: 1800 184 527 (Support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex)