Smashing the stigma

Two years ago Jacob Pearce was at a party and in a highly intoxicated state.
In a moment that changed his life forever, he fell from a balcony in a high-rise apartment in Melbourne, falling 22 storeys and landing on the roof of a restaurant below.
The Malmsbury-raised 30-year-old said it was a miracle he survived.
“Ever since the day I woke up from a coma, I had a burning desire to make a difference,” he said.
“I didn’t survive for no reason and I’ve thought about this every day.
“I stand here today fully recovered physically but a work in progress mentally and this will always be the case.”
Jacob had always battled depression silently but after losing a relative to suicide a year ago and three months later another friend also taking his own life, he knew exactly what he wanted to do.
“After many months of rehab and soul searching, I have now found my passion and that is helping people, and in particular being an advocate for mental health and helping our young people learn from my experiences.”
Suicide is the highest cause of death for Australian teenagers and young adults – 3128 people took their life in 2017 – so about three months ago, Jacob teamed up with Alive Project, a youth mental health and suicide prevention organisation.
“They run workshops and school camps in secondary schools to help our youth create resilience and give them tools to combat mental health issues when they arise,” Jacob said.
“They are based in Brisbane and my aim is to bring them down to Victoria next year.”
To kick start the program in Melbourne, Jacob has been fundraising since October and has currently raised almost $14,000.
“I have been campaigning, having sausage sizzles at Bunnings and on March 7 I start my walk for youth mental health and I am walking from Barham, NSW, to Melbourne in 10 days, which will be 375kms.
“Along the way I will be stopping at numerous country pubs in Pyramid Hill, Harcourt and Blackwood and stopping at my auntie’s place in Malmsbury.
“These great country pubs have offered to have a welcoming event with raffles and barbecues.
“So many people are getting behind this cause because everyone has been affected by it at some point.”
Jacob will arrive back in to Melbourne on Sunday March 17 and will be welcomed by hundreds of family, friends and others at the Port Melbourne Football Club.
He will have live music from Kyneton’s own Taylor Sheridan, comedians doing stand up, and Kyneton local and former AFL footballer Nathan Thompson as guest speaker.
“It’s great to see so many people banding together and especially Kyneton locals getting behind me for this cause.”
If you would like to donate to support Jacob’s effort go to www.mycause.com.au/page/183698
For tickets to the homecoming event go to murray2melbourne.eventbrite.com.au
You can also follow Jacob on Facebook – @pearcyspledge and Instagram – @cobpearce

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