Break­ing the si­lence

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By BEN SMITH

THE man be­hind the An­zac Day haka that went vi­ral says men need to learn to ex­press them­selves for their own health.

Haka For Life founder Leon Ruri en­cour­aged men to speak about their prob­lems and not suf­fer in si­lence dur­ing Men’s Health Week, which was held from June 11 to 17.

The Can­ning Vale res­i­dent has bat­tled men­tal health is­sues in the past stem­ming from the sex­ual and phys­i­cal abuse he suf­fered in his youth.

“I’ve used drugs and drink­ing as cop­ing mech­a­nisms, I had a mar­riage break­down, I’ve had to chal­lenge re­strain­ing or­ders,” he said.

“I’m a solo dad; my four teenagers live with me but I’ve seen chal­lenges of not be­ing able to see your chil­dren.

“I’ve suf­fered de­pres­sion and wanted to com­mit sui­cide, but I’ve got things in place like coun­selling, yoga, med­i­ta­tion.”

Mr Ruri said he found many men did not know Men’s Health Week ex­isted and that it was vi­tal men spoke about their prob­lems.

“It’s very im­por­tant for men to be aware of state of mind and it’s im­por­tant for this week to be pro­moted,” he said.

“It’s a great op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a plat­form for a com­mu­nity and na­tion of men for shar­ing the pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives to en­able men to see they’re not alone in what they’re go­ing through in life.”

Mr Ruri said he cre­ated Haka For Life to help break the stigma of si­lence.

“Men live and die in si­lence and when the haka is per­formed, there is no si­lence,” he said.

“When you per­form the haka, it’s a demon­stra­tion of men cre­at­ing noise, it is full body ex­pres­sion. When you are do­ing the haka, you are vul­ner­a­ble, which is re­ally at essence of what men don’t do a lot.

“It’s about get­ting peo­ple com­fort­able with get­ting un­com­fort­able and ex­press­ing them­selves.”

■ If you or some­one you know is in need of help, call Life­line on 13 11 14 or visit­ au/geth­elp.­mu­ni­ d484018

Leon Ruri wants to make more peo­ple aware of Men’s Health Week.

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