Image: Joe Williams, world boxing champion & founder of the Enemy Within
Between the 29th of June and the 30th of July EntreHub will be a running a series highlighting people and organisations working in the field of suicide prevention. In Australia more than 2,500 people die as a result of suicide each year while in the United States the number is in excess of 40,000. Here at EntreHub we believe that these stories and these people matter. Please help us spread the word.
Joe Williams is a proud Wiradjuri Aboriginal man born in Cowra, raised in Wagga NSW. Joe played in the NRL for South Sydney Rabbitohs, Penrith Panthers and Canterbury Bulldogs before switching to professional Boxing in 2009 and becoming a 2x WBF World Jnr Welterweight champion.
Apart from being involved with professional sport for over 15 years, Joe now spends his time working to inspire youth and individuals through motivational speaking workshops. Joe has spent time working with disengaged youth in high schools and primary schools, drug & alcohol rehabilitation centres, gaols and has mentored both youth and adults. In 2016, Joe was recognised as Wagga Wagga Australia Day Citizen of the Year.
Privately, Joe has had his own battles, struggles and setbacks, which culminated in his own suicide attempt in 2011. The Enemy Within Project shows a raw and honest side of Joe Williams, the boxer, former NRL Player, father & fiancé. Joe delves into the private pain, and dealings with depression that drove him to the very brink. Joe talks adversity, dealing with struggle, resilience, improving your attitude by 1%, positive energy & how small steps, lead to something greater. Joe lists becoming a father to 4 beautiful children as his greatest accomplishment.
Joe Williams will be speaking as part of the National Suicide Prevention Conference Lived Experience Session panel as well as opening the Reflection Ceremony.
Take a look at the five things that motivate Joe when it comes to suicide prevention:
My experience. In the days leading up to my suicide attempt, I was hoping so much that someone, anyone would understand and help me to find light - so I wouldn't be thinking and stepping into the dark places I were headed. Now, today I am that beacon of light & hope for others in the same position. I get to travel Australia & throughout the world, interacting, educating & sharing my experience and helping others. Talking from a vivid lived experience of constant suicidal ideation, suicidal thoughts so deafening and real that they sound like voices talking to me - I get to tell people, 'they are going to be ok, it will pass' because I know from experience they do.
My children. I want them to be connected to country, strong in their own mental health, open to every positive opportunity that comes their way and resilient enough to navigate the challenges life throws at them along the way.
My people. Past, present and future. One thing that rang loud and clear with me in a conversation with one of the Maori aunties at the World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference recently was when she said, “you have to stay at it, stay in that fight for your people today, the youth & elders & most importantly your ancestors who have passed before you - we here (in New Zealand) were in the same position as you guys about 50 years ago, the Pakeha (white man) will soon realise how beautiful your true culture is & your people are, & we will walk as one throughout the world”
My own mental health. The most important thing for me right at this present moment is to continue to raise the awareness and help others on how to live a functioning life with mental illness. By delivering Enemy Within sessions across the globe enables me to do this, and in turn help myself stay well.
My vision for the future. A world that has hope, a community that knows how to get help and give help. A community that helps each other heal.
Two things Joe thinks we can all do every day when it comes to suicide prevention
Connect with your culture. A huge part & I believe the most significant part in my recovery, has been the reconnection & reawakening in my self journey of my Aboriginal culture. Through our song lines, dance, connection to self, ancestors, others, land, spirit and our ancient Lore I am in a much more settled and safe self. I believe there is something in this for all of us, no matter race or religion.
Exercising and eating healthy works for me. Perhaps it will help you. Think about it this way. 26mins of rigorous exercise = 12 hrs of positive brain health. It doesn’t have to be about joining a gym or signing up to anything complicated. Many of us can walk, that means we can exercise.
If you or someone you love is in crisis or needs support right now, please callLifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.
Young people aged 5 to 25 years can call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800
You can also visit communitiesmatter.com.au for information and resources on how to get help and give help.
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