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 a booby trap blow up in front of him whilst on duty in Afghanistan,” says Mark who is studying a 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.”
The Laughter Clinic
Now Mark — who is presenting The Laughter Clinic at each of Griffith’s five campuses as part of Uni Mental Health & Well-being Week during 10 -14 October — is collaborating 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.”
The Laughter Clinic
Monday 10 October – South Bank QCA
S05_2.04 12 – 1pm
Tuesday 11 October – Logan
Tuesday 11 October – Mt Gravatt
M23_ Auditorium 3-4pm
Wednesday 12 October – Gold Coast
Function Centre (G07) 1-2pm
Thursday 13 October – Nathan
COST: Free to all Griffith staff and students
More details: griffith.edu.au/unimentalhealthweek