David's story: The day my father took his life

“The minute I got the phone call from my mother, and she said my father was missing, the pieces of the jigsaw fell together in my mind and I knew he’d done something drastic.”

David Fodor speaks with chilling honesty about the day he discovered his father had taken his own life, because he knows how important and powerful words can be, when it comes to men’s health.

 “I think that was the moment when all those conversations that I’d had with my father over the preceding month made sense. He had been giving me advice that he’d never given me before,” he said. 
 
It was 17 years ago when David’s father Peter Fodor made the irreversible decision, which shattered his family. 
 
“I think during the initial 10 years, it fragmented us as a family, because we weren’t willing to openly discuss how it came to be.”
 
David and his family grew up in the regional town of Albury, NSW. 
 
His father Peter had moved to Australia when he was six, fleeing Hungary with his family during World War II. He went on to become an accountant and started his own practice. 
 
While Peter rarely spoke of his troubles, David believes it was the collapse of this business which caused such intense inner turmoil.
 
“When his business started to fail, he found it so difficult to deal with. It had been something that he’d worked so hard on for a number of years, so to see it crumbling around him without him being able to influence it, it was too much for him,” David said.
 
“It turned out that my father had not been going to work for three weeks. So the guys in his office, his clerical staff, thought that he was on holidays. So he was getting dressed in the morning, going off to work, and we have no idea where he was going. No idea.”
 
David says he still feels a sense of guilt at what happened. He wishes they’d known what was going on, in case there was something they could have done to change the outcome. Which is why he’s become involved with Movember Australia, in a move to stop other men from dying too young. 
 
While Movember is typically promoted over November, David wants the discussion about men’s mental health to be a focus all year round. 
men talking over a beer

“Men are really rubbish about being honest with their mates. Whereas I know my wife sits around the dinner table with her friends and they talk about everything,” he says. 

“Part of it is seeing more blokes who are role models who are willing to say – yeah I had a problem and I did something about it.”

So he’s leading by example, and starting the conversation to show other men that it’s OK, to say you’re not OK. 

“I’m unemployed suddenly after 21 years in the corporate world, and it’s tough."

“But I’m getting phone calls from my mother every second day, because she knows how hard this is on me, and she’s desperate not to make the same mistake the second time round, which is to assume that everything is all good.”

“Strong men need support, particularly in times of crisis. But support can only come when people know you need it.”

Anyone concerned about their mental health or the health of others is encouraged to contact their GP. There are also a number of free resources available in Australia. Adults needing immediate assistance are encouraged to call Lifeline on 13 11 14, while Mindspot and beyondblue also offer free telephone and online support services. Young people needing immediate assistance may prefer to call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800. For young people between 12 and 24 years old, headspace offers confidential online counselling and phone assistance, or you can walk into one of their centres. The Suicide Call Back Service is another resource available which provides free phone (1300 659 467), video and online counselling for anyone affected by suicide. 
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