Fund-raiser is close to heart

MATT Hamilton hates to think what the outcome might have been, if a sudden impulse to jump off a bridge hadn’t been thwarted by a passing motorist.

Just on 12 months ago Mr Hamilton had decided he wanted to kill himself.

It didn’t make any sense to him — a devoted husband with a “fantastic, supportive” wife, four healthy, smart kids whom he adores and a great job.

The family didn’t want for anything.

A year on, though, and the Thurgoona resident now knows that fateful night on the bridge was not a spur-of-the-moment event.

His counselling and treatment for depression revealed he was probably suffering from the illness for anywhere up to 15 years.

Mr Hamilton said that had given his involvement in this year’s Movember fund-raiser for men’s health with his Border Express workmates even greater resonance.

He is one of 15 workers on the Border and 44 Australia-wide who have raised about $12,000 for the cause, which has a special emphasis on men’s mental health and prostate cancer.

“Last year I actually had a nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with clinical depression,” he said.

“That’s a big driving force behind getting involved.”

Mr Hamilton had been getting a bit of counselling and thought he was doing OK.

“Then one night, I went for a walk and came across a bridge and decided that I would throw myself off it, because I just couldn’t bear to live any more,” he said.

“The only thing that stopped me doing it was a car just pulled up beside me and the driver said: ‘Hey mate, are you OK?’.”

Since he has been on anti-depressants Mr Hamilton has got back to being himself, where he “loves life, love spending time with my kids”.

“Nothing’s a problem now if something goes wrong,” he said.

Mr Hamilton knows he was too materialistic before his diagnosis, and it had helped mask his illness — that “if I get this, I’ll feel better”.

“That doesn’t last long and it wasn’t until I’ve had the nervous breakdown that I’ve been able to push the reset button,” he said.

“Now I wouldn’t care if I lost all of that, as long as I’ve got my family, my health and my kids’ health then nothing else matters.”

Mr Hamilton said when he had started talking to other people, he soon came to realise just how many other people in the community felt the same way — up to one in eight men, and one in six women, at some time in their life.

Mr Hamilton said he still teared-up everytime he thought about that night last year.

“My kids would have not known why I jumped off the bridge,” he said.

“They would have always thought for the rest of life ‘what on earth did I ever do to make Dad want to kill himself’.”

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