Alex Elisala's death touched a lot of people

IT was a sombre moment when Mackay businessmen and women paused to listen to how Cutters player Alex Elisala's death has touched people's lives.

Both Mackay Cutters chief executive officer Glenn Ottaway and R U OK? Day national ambassador Wendell Sailor shared how the player's death has affected them at the Mackay Region Chamber of Commerce and R U OK? Foundation R U OK? Day launch yesterday, which is also supported by the Daily Mercury.

Sailor said he had been saddened by the news of Elisala's death in April.

"The toughest thing I've seen this year was after the Mackay Cutters game, when I was speaking to Johnathan Thurston about young Alex Elisala," he said.

"He'd actually talked to Thursto and he didn't want to play football, he wanted to quit and then obviously we know what happened. So now there are things in place to help."

Sailor who was at the launch at Bridges Cafe and Restaurant said he became involved in the campaign after his close friend and founder of the campaign Gavin Larkin approached him.

"I thought rather than stand on the sidelines I wanted to get involved and get that message out there," Sailor said.

"Young men or men in general... we're pretty proud. So sometimes it's hard for us to ask for help."

Ottaway revealed how he had dealt with Elisala's death in the days that followed.

"I got the phone call at about 6.30am on Sunday morning from the police to say what had happened," he said.

"From a personal perspective it's like nothing I've had to deal with before.

"Once the initial shock of it passed I guess, personally, I started to operate very robotically."

Others also shared their personal stories in front of about 150 people.

R U OK? Day is held nationally on September 12, but Mackay Region Chamber of Commerce deputy chairwoman Kylie Porter said people needed to start talking about the importance of the campaign's message now, instead of just on the day.

About 75 businesses have supported the campaign.

 

FOR HELP

 For help with emotional difficulties, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or see http://www.lifeline.org.au

 For help with depression, phone beyondblue on 1300 224 636 or see http://www.beyondblue.org.au

 

SPREADING THE MESSAGE

THE Mackay Region Chamber of Commerce is urging businesses in Mackay to spread the R U OK? message beyond the official day on September 12.

At yesterday's campaign launch, deputy chairwoman Kylie Porter shared the story of her brother-in-law Shane who took his own life, and said she wanted the R U OK? message to be used throughout businesses in the region.

"My story for you today is to go back to work ... and ask whoever it is, are you okay?" she said.

"I would do it every single day. I'm actually a bit of a pest about it. I annoy people because when I think they're not okay I make it my mission to get what it is out of them."

Ms Porter said when her family recovered from the initial shock of Shane's death they made a promise to be open about talking about suicide.

"I don't believe there's a stigma attached to suicide," she said. "I believe that there's a stigma attached to asking people if they're okay."

For more information about the R U OK? Day campaign visit http://www.ruokday.com.



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