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Famous Australian Lifeguard Says Suicide Is Never the Answer

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R U OK? Ambassador Bruce Hopkins knows better than the average person the importance of having meaningful conversations with friends and work mates.

After 25 years on the job, and as head lifeguard at Bondi Beach, “Hoppo” has witnessed plenty of heartbreak as the result of lives lost by suicide in the Eastern Suburbs area of Sydney, Australia.

“I took on the role of ambassador for R U OK? because sadly, I’ve seen plenty of preventable deaths over a few decades,

“I’ve had a few mates and even family who have lost loved ones to suicide,

“My job has also put me in a position where I’ve had to retrieve the bodies of people who did end their lives,

“Then there’s people who have attempted suicide and failed or died later from injuries, that happens a lot. It’s not always as instant as people think.”

“I’ve held some of these people in the water and not one of them has said, ‘I’m so glad I did this.’ They have all regretted it, they just didn’t know how to get away from their pain.”

“I’ve also had to have some devastating conversations with family members; last words and apologies to pass on,

“No one should have to have that conversation or hear those words.”

Hoppo is passionate that attitudes need to change and conversations need to be had, especially with the people who matter to us most.

“In Australia, over 3,000 people a year end their lives, in the U.S. it’s around 43,000 per year, and the implications ripple out and impact so many others, often for a lifetime.”

Hoppo ensures he keeps himself both physically and mentally as fit as possible.

“My resilience comes from having to stay fit and through my love of surfing.

“Surfing relaxes you and takes your mind off things. I believe doing things that you really love is the key,

“What are the things you loved doing as a kid? Going to see a game, going horse riding, taking photos, whatever it is. As hard as it is, try and do those things when you’re in a bad place, it can make a big difference to your wellbeing,

“Also talking to mates and not being afraid to open up is what we should be striving for,

“People do care and want to be there for you, so let them in.” 

Tips on how to have a conversation:

1.     Ask R U OK?

2.     Listen without judgment.

3.     Encourage action.

4.     Check back in with them.

 For more information on how to help family and friends who might be struggling, visit R U OK?

Watch Hoppo on the job in an excerpt from Bondi Rescue: 


Watch Hoppo talk about some great advice he got from his mum when he went through hard times:

Originally published: May 18, 2017
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