In Men’s Health Week, a founding member of Nowra Men’s Shed has spoken out about health issues gripping men in the local area.
Vern James from Bomaderry has been personally impacted by suicide.
Mr James, 79, a father, grandfather and great grandfather, fears many local men are at risk of suicide.
In order to prevent a crisis among his peers, he took a Lifeline course, and has tried his best to be a source of help.
Even still, he lost a good friend to suicide.
“I did a course, I followed the advice, I thought I had made a bargain with a friend, that if he reached that stage, he’d be in touch, but he didn’t call,” Mr James said.
“It was devastating. I felt pretty frustrated and ineffectual.”
He was not able to affect positive change in that tragic circumstance, but he has helped his peers in many ways over the past decade.
“Being a part of starting the men’s shed, we saw an opportunity to provide something for retired men and unemployed people,” Mr James said.
“It’s about getting people together to be able to form real friendships and encourage them to support one another.”
He said old age has increased his consciousness about health.
“I didn’t think about my health when I first became a father,” Mr James said.
“Staying healthy has become more demanding.
“I’ve just been to the doctor about my skin and sun spots, I’ll need minor surgery, and I definitely see the optometrist and dentist more often.”
Ageing has taken its toll on his friends at the men’s shed.
“We have a couple of guys with Parkinson’s, a guy with a pacemaker, a bloke with a bad knee from a fall 10 years ago, it’s a mixed bunch,” Mr James said.
Mr James said being a part of a community takes the edge off.
“There’s plenty of joking around and leg pulling,” he said.
Lifeline provides crisis support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636