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Footy clubs unite to tackle youth suicide

TREK: South Grafton Rebels vice-president John Matthews and Grafton Ghost president Joe Kinnane get together to promote an upcoming function for travelling walkers raising awareness for mental health issues.
TREK: South Grafton Rebels vice-president John Matthews and Grafton Ghost president Joe Kinnane get together to promote an upcoming function for travelling walkers raising awareness for mental health issues. Adam Hourigan

RUGBY league arch rivals the Grafton Ghosts and South Grafton Rebels have combined to encourage action on the scourge of youth suicide.

Ghosts president Joe Kinnane and Rebels vice-president John Matthews met on Friday to discuss the visit today of former NRL player Darren Brown.

"Darren played about 150 games in the NRL and he is walking from the Gold Coast to Sydney to raise awareness for youth suicide," Mr Kinnane said.

"He read that Telegraph story about youth suicide in Grafton and decided he would make a special stop here on Monday to have a function to talk about the problem."

Mr Kinnane said Mr Brown and five other people set out from the Gold Coast on Friday for the walk to Sydney.

"Brownie contacted me because of his league connections and asked if the Ghosts would like to do something," he said.

"I contacted (president) Ray Taunton at the Rebels and we've decided to work together."

Mr Kinnane said the suicide of two young Ghosts players in one year had hit the club hard.

"We lost two young blokes to it in a year, and I know there's still young people in the club feeling it now," he said.

"And when you hear there's been 12 in the area in 12 months, you know something needs to be done."

Mr Kinnane has contacted officials of all local sporting clubs about the visit.

"We've arranged for a function out the back at the Grafton District Services Club when they arrive on Monday afternoon," he said.

"We're going to get a few there.

"There's quite a few mums and dads coming along off their own bat as well.

"It's not going to be a hands-in-your-pocket affair.

"The people on the walk know their stuff and they'll be pretty informative," he said.

You can follow the progress of Mr Brown's group on the Everydayhero website.

Mr Brown said the work of Suicide Prevention Australia had inspired him to embark on the 960km walk to raise awareness for mental health issues and suicide prevention.

Topics:  everyday hero gdsc grafton ghosts nrl rugby league south grafton rebels suicide prevention walk it off whatson



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