Hunter pilot program Brave Men launches to raise awareness of male suicide in the corporate sector

Speaking out for a cause: Brave Men co-founders James Tocci, left, and Sam Wallace with Lifeline’s Gillian Summers. Picture: Marina Neil. WHEN James Tocci found out his mate Steve Morris had died by suicide last August, he was blindsided.

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Mr Tocci, co-founder of Newcastle recruitment firm Puro Partners, had met Mr Morris close to 20 years earlier and, as he placed Mr Morris in executive roles, formed a firm friendship with the easy-going father of two.

MISSED: Stephen Morris.

There were, says Mr Tocci, no signs that Mr Morris, then IT group manager at Newcastle-headquartered, globaltravel firm Scenic,was battling demons.

“He’d just returned home from holidays in Spain and when I saw him a few days before he went missing he was speaking about the flamenco, wine and so on,” says Mr Tocci, adding his friend had no financial woes.

At the pub later, Mr Tocci said none of those friends of Mr Morris gathered had read any warning signs.

“I thought something good had to come of this,” he says.

That something is Brave Men,a Hunter pilot program that aims to heighten awareness of suicide among men, particularly in the corporate sector.

Puro Partners donated $10,000 tothe scheme, a sum that was provided through working with Scenic in finding Mr Morris’ successor.Mr Morris’ wife Kerrie will also donate to the program in her efforts to ensure her husband’s death is not in vain.

The initiative is being spearheaded by Lifeline, which will host free awareness talks to businesses with a male dominant workforce.

Brave Men will be launched on Friday, March 31,at a closed luncheon in Newcastle attended by the city’s top male executives, with Kerrie Morris speaking.

Lifeline Hunter Central Coast CEO GillianSummers said Mr Morris, like many male corporate executives, may have thought “he was 10-foot tall and couldn’t show his emotion”. Statistics show of the nation’saverage 3027 suicide deaths each year, 75 per cent are male and the median age of the victim is 44.5.

The heads of businesses participating in the program will be asked to attend the awareness talks “to show staff they are taking the issue seriously” and to help break down the stigma of suicide.

To participate inBrave Men call Lifeline on 4940 2000. Lifeline’s 24-hour assistance line is131114.