By Jemima Desbrow
Even the seemingly most exuberant of us still have our dark days. Forty-five year old New Zealand born husband and father of two, Justin Geange is no stranger to depression.
The charismatic plumber, formerly known as the mascot of the Brisbane Broncos and cane toad for the Queensland Maroons has silently struggled behind a façade of humour for years. Justin has not only attempted to take his own life, but endured losses of both family members and friends who took the same approach.
As Justin describes it, God had other plans for him and gave him the gift of a second chance at life. The Aussie legend has since picked up and dusted himself off from his past.
He has persevered through hardship and now provides his personal experiences as a collaborator with Griffith University’s Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP).
With a $7,500 fundraising target, the team is participating in the Gold Coast Airport Marathon to help save lives by gaining sponsors to fundraise for suicide awareness.
“It means a lot to me because I have experienced instances of people attempting to take their lives, including myself,” says Justin. “I see it as a second chance that I’ve been given and I want to help as many people as possible. I’m going to run the 10km race and raise money to keep as many people on the planet as I can.”
For mates and family
This resilient and down to earth man is running not only for himself, but for his mates and his family. You can donate to Justin’s fundraising page here.
As an adolescent Justin was faced with a number of relationship dilemmas that contributed to multiple breakdowns, suicide attempts and rehab for alcoholism. However, at the age of 17 this troubled teenager valiantly decided that he was due for a fresh start. When Justin’s cousin offered him a position in his band, the jovial jokester seized the opportunity and moved to Australia.
Unfortunately 20 years of emotional stability came crumbling down in 2013 as events took a turn for the worse. Failing to attain his dream job and being eliminated from the semi-finals of Australia’s Got Talent took a toll on Justin’s self-esteem. This caused him to attempt to take his life as he was convinced that he was unable to provide for his family.
As a part of AISRAP, Justin has advice for anyone suffering depression.
“It’s really tough but you’ve got to reach out for someone that you trust.”
He suggests that when it comes to comforting a friend or family member who may be suicidal, it’s all about “being fair dinkum. You’ve just got to genuinely care about your mates enough to ask the tough questions”.
He recommends that anyone who may know of someone with depression should “be a friend, but you don’t have to be a psychologist. It’s about people caring for people”.
AISRAP works tirelessly to provide services, training, research and learning to Australian communities, agencies and health providers.