How his father’s suicide helped him to become a ‘real man’

Losing his dad as a teen was “truly horrible” for JC Clapham but the father-of-three was soon faced with his own moment of despair. 

Check out the full article here. Featured image: The healthier JC, late 2017. Photo credit: Matt Hofmann MediaSource:Supplied

March 28, 1998 – JC’s dad died by suicide. In the article, he details his experience and relationship with his dad prior to that moment. This event left him with unanswerable question that he still thinks about to this day.

JC has also experienced his own mental health struggles. He writes in his story:

My first major dark period climaxed when I was 22. I was drinking a lot at that time and not dealing with things well. After one too many setbacks (and far too many drinks on this particular night), I was in more pain than I felt I could handle. I walked out of the pub and jumped off a bridge. I landed on the road about seven meters below, and largely because of how drunk and limp I was, I survived with only a broken pelvis and wrist. Three months of bed rest, physical therapy and psychological rehabilitation followed. During those long and very bleak months I came to see just how pained my dad must have been at the end, and how helpless he must have felt. I had nearly joined him, but a tiny flicker inside me hadn’t gone out, and I soldiered on.

JC is now a father of three, but mental health issues still pop up for him. He details another dark period around the time his marriage ended, as they had grown too far apart and weren’t able to bridge that significant divide.

I found a place to live, moved out, and fell apart completely. [My GP told me to first take one month off from work to focus on solely surviving]… and then I was told to take another month off work, then another, and eventually I resigned from my promising corporate career and found my entire life changing all at once. And every day since, without exception, the possibility of suicide has popped into my mind as a possible way to wipe away the hurt and sadness and tears and despair that have nearly drowned me.

JC notes that, one upside of losing his father to suicide, is that he knows what its like for a father to leave a child behind like that — “it’s truly horrible.” He says that his children are a protective factor for him.

Now, JC goes around and talks to people about the importance of mental health and seeking help when in need.

My dad didn’t ask for any help. He didn’t talk to anyone about how bleak things seemed, let alone see a professional for medical help. And that silence meant he died.

He now has a new career — he performs a one-person ‘compassionate comedy’ show, Humpty Dumpty Daddy. In the show, he says that he stands on stage and tells his story, much like he did in his article, in hopes that it can make a difference in other men’s lives. 

My dad felt a failure at life and succeeded in dying. I failed at dying but am beginning to feel a success at life. Not a bad change in one generation.

Thanks to JC for telling his story.

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