Suicide awareness is close to home for Ryan

Engineering student Ryan McLeod, pictured outside a working site, says suicide is an issue that affects every family
Engineering student Ryan McLeod says suicide is an issue that affects every family

In Australia, statistics reveal more than 2500 people commit suicide every year. A staggering 65,000 think about it.

Ryan McLeod comes from a family with experience of both.

“It’s very close to home for me and my family. And yet that’s the thing about suicide; it’s close to every home.”

Recently Ryan brought attention to the issue through his participation in the half-marathon event at the 2016 Gold Coast Airport Marathon, fundraising for the world-leading Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP), which is based at Griffith.

AISRAP was one of the causes identified by the Development and Alumni Office for fundraising in the lead-up to the marathon.

Raising awareness is again at the forefront of Ryan’s mind with national RUOK? Day to be marked on Thursday, 8 September, followed by World Suicide Prevention Day on Saturday, 10 September.

“I remember the day I found out my uncle had committed suicide. The image on my mother’s face is seared into my brain. I was seven, now I’m 32 and it’s still there,” says Ryan.

“Some people call depression the black dog and it can affect entire families, especially when the result is someone actually taking their own life.

“That’s why talking about it, opening up about it, raising awareness and funds are so important. It puts the black dog on a leash so people can get the help they so urgently need.”

A qualified carpenter, Ryan has returned to study to pursue a career in civil engineering. He is currently enjoying an industry placement with national construction and development company Watpac.

The placement suits Ryan’s love of sport as he is working on the Olympic pool construction project at Griffith’s Gold Coast campus.

“To receive this kind of experience is great. I’m a massive sports fan and would one day love to work on projects like an Olympic stadium, an international aquatic centre, or perhaps even the next MCG.”

Ryan’s positive attitude is genuine and impressive given the tragedy his family has known.

However, he is quick to say that the impact of suicide is not confined to one family, but is known by every family.

That message is reinforced at AISRAP, which will host a World Suicide Prevention Day Community Forum in Brisbane on Friday, 9 September. For more details, click here