Business Owner, Floorer, Christchurch
Paul Lynch, who runs a carpet and vinyl laying business in Christchurch, lost his younger brother Brett (also a tradie) to suicide in 2013. Paul struggled to cope with his loss, initially using alcohol as a coping tool. Almost three and half years ago, Paul quit drinking alcohol completely. Since then, he has focused his efforts on mental wellbeing and suicide prevention within his own business.
“Men are not talking about the little things - initially they don’t know who to talk to - but mostly because they are scared of being the butt of the smoko room jokes. Behind the macho hard-man testosterone-fueled facade, there’s an underlying fear of being ridiculed. That needs to change. It’s important for guys to not only be prepared to talk, but to be prepared to listen without judgement.
“If we can get tradies talking about the little things, these little things won’t build into massive pressurised time bombs. Every Monday morning, I have an unofficial toolbox talk with my employees where we simply share whatever is going on in the form of a very informal discussion. I open myself up and I say it how it is – which probably isn’t the typical mental health message people are used to hearing, but it’s one that male tradies find relatable. For me, it’s about encouraging people to talk about the little things as they happen, rather than allow all the little things to build into one enormous burden that gets too heavy to carry, sending them into a crisis. Suicide is not the problem. Suicide is a result of the problems.”