Comedy in the face of trauma

A lightbulb moment after a show on a cruise ship four years ago was a career turning point for comedian Mark McConville.

The Brisbane stand-up comic and now Griffith student was doing what he does best, making people laugh, when a woman from the audience told him after the show it was the first time in three years that her husband had laughed out loud.

“She told me it had been three years since her husband, an SAS professional, had had a booby trap blow up in front of him whilst on duty in Afghanistan,” says Mark who is studying a Graduate Certificate in Suicide Prevention Studies as part of the Masters in Suicidology at Griffith University’s Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP).

“Apparently this guy had been on various medications for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder but none of them had done a lot of good. This was the first time she had seen him really happy in three years and it was a moving moment.

“That’s when I knew that the power of laughter can really go above and beyond to alleviate many types of psychological issues. I was put in touch with AISRAP by a friend who said that I should talk to a university about carrying out research into the issue.”

Now Mark — who is speaking at the AISRAP-led forum for World Suicide Prevention Day (Sep 10) in Brisbane – is hoping to extend his Griffith studies and collaborate with AISRAP to conduct research into the precise ways that humour and laughter can help reduce suicidality.

“I’m hoping to show that bringing laughter into people’s lives can restore hope. Restoring hope to someone in distress is important because hopelessness is a key factor in suicide ideation where there can literally be no light at the end of the tunnel,” he says.

“When it comes to suicide prevention the problem with a lot of the current work is that it is reactive. We need to step back and look at the issue of societal happiness and what interventions we can put in place to help prevent people from becoming suicidal in the first place.”

“I don’t need to teach anyone how to laugh; we all have this biologically in us from birth. I just like to remind people that they need laughter as part of their life.”

World Suicide Prevention Day Forum
Griffith University’s Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) is hosting the annual regional World Suicide Prevention Day Forum. ‘Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives’ is the theme of the 2015 World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), an initiative of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization.
WHEN: 9:00am – 4.30pm
WHERE: The Greek Club, 29 Edmondstone St, South Brisbane.
Guest Speakers include:
ï‚· Aunty Carol Currie
ï‚· The Hon. Cameron Dick MP, Queensland Minister for Health
ï‚· Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck, Commissioner, Queensland Mental Health Commission
ï‚· Professor Ned Pankhurst, Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor, Griffith University
ï‚· Professor Harvey Whiteford, Professor of Psychiatry and Population Mental Health, University of Queensland
ï‚· Dr Alize Ferrari, Research Fellow, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research
ï‚· Mr Terry Ryan, Queensland State Coroner
ï‚· Mr Ian Stewart, Queensland Police Commissioner
ï‚· Dr Kairi Kolves, Principal Research Fellow, AISRAP
ï‚· Mr Marc Bryant, Hunter Institute of Mental Health
ï‚· Mrs Jurgita Rimkeviciene, Phd Candidate, AISRAP
ï‚· Mr Mark McConville, CEO Comedy Unlimited, Living with Laughter

COST: $45 (incl GST) for full day attendance (8:00am – 4:30pm, includes morning/afternoon tea and lunch) and $10 (incl GST) for ‘Get Connected’ Networking Function following the event (5:30pm – 7:00pm, includes refreshments). To register click here.