Corowa’s Pat Lawson said three simple words “I need help” have changed his life forever.
With his cheeky smile, vibrant energy and selfless attitude it’s hard to believe that Pat’s campaign to break the stigma behind mental illness and prevent suicide was ignited by his attempt to take his own life, after struggling to deal with the effects of depression just over a year ago.
It was this act of sheer desperation that motivated Pat to change his ways and through this he is now inspiring people around the globe to never give up.
Pat was diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety and emotional lability last year leaving him with a lot of built-up anger.
He started his crusade with a coffee in hand and the camera rolling and reached out to thousands of followers on Facebook every morning to check in and see how they were going.
Over the months he continued to welcome new followers daily to his online forum, where they continue to come together to support each other.
Pat said he decided to create the Facebook page and a group called ‘3 Words. I Need Help’ in August last year and in less than two weeks from creation his page went global attracting likeminded individuals who began sharing their stories of hope and survival.
The page works as a support network for anyone struggling with mental illness, as a reminder that they are not alone.
Late last year Mr Lawson’s Facebook page caught the attention of US man, Kevin Hines who made the film ‘Suicide: The Ripple Effect’.
Mr Hines jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in 2000 and survived – now he is on a mission for people to talk about their pain.
He chose Mr Lawson to be in the film because of his “raw attitude” towards helping others and said he saw something in Pat that was just “really powerful”.
Following his feature in the film Pat has recently returned from America where he spoke about mental illness on an international stage at America’s National Council for Behavioural Health’s Natcon.
The three day event was held in Las Vegas and Pat was joined at the conference by seven other Australians who were also involved in the life changing documentary.
A snippet of Suicide: The Ripple Effect documentary was presented at the event to give attendees an insight into various people’s mental health challenges.
While he had hoped to go and learn from the people in the US, he said the Australians might have taught them a thing or two.
“The entire experience of going over there and being a part of the Natcon event was just incredible,” Pat said.
“I travelled over as a part of The Ripple Effect team and we had the pleasure of meeting so many others that are trying to break the stigma associated with mental illness and prevent suicide just like we are.
“One thing I noticed though was just how much more advanced we are here in Australia, in terms of accepting mental illness and the campaigns we have running – in America they also don’t offer a Lived Experience Network like we do.”
Pat said he felt privileged to be a part of the overseas Natcon event and that he was feeling more inspired than ever to grow his campaign.
“I have recently just brought out a clothing brand, that includes hoodies, hats and t-shirts that all have ‘3 Words I Need Help’ on them,” he said.
“They have been so popular and it is great to see people making their way throughout country towns wearing them and sharing the story and message associated with the brand.
“This is just another way of getting this important message out into the world and by doing so I hope that it shows people that by opening up about your mental health issues is the bravest thing to do.”
Mr Lawson said some days he has to pinch himself to remind him that it is all real.
“Next I hope to run programs in schools and rural communities, that is where my real passion lies,” he said.
“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would have this opportunity, this journey hasn’t only changed my life but has and will continue to potentially change the lives of so many others.”
If you would like to check in with Pat weekly, he does two live chats a week on his 3 Words I need Help Facebook page – check the page for further date and time schedules.
Anyone experiencing hardship should contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.