Gotcha4Life is a project designed to save the lives of thousands of Australian men every year.

Gotcha4Life is a partnership between media personality Gus Worland and businessmen Gareth Pike and Mike Charter, with the express aim of stopping men taking their own lives.

Currently in Australia, eight men commit suicide every day. That’s over 3,000 lives lost each year.

Reducing this statistic is a cause close to the heart of Mike and Gareth who this year lost a friend and business mentor. TripleM Radio personality Gus also lost a close mate and confidant this way several years ago.

Gus has since immersed himself in the sector, presenting an ABC TV show looking at what it means to be a male in Australian society, and another yet-to-be-screened which deals with DNA and its effects on mental health.

“Men’s health is a passion of mine,” says Gus. “I want to help my mates, my son and the men who will be in my daughter’s lives by making a difference in this terrible situation.”

Gareth says we felt we could make a difference because suicide has a devastating impact on our society. “It’s not just lives lost, it’s also the effect it has on family and friends,” says Gareth. “Suicide impacts so many lives. We know steps can be taken by the wider community to prevent it happening, so it’s our mission to reach as many people as we can.”

Gotcha4Life kicks off June 9 as part of Men’s Health Week, encouraging men to discuss their real feelings with their mates, then seal it with a hug.

“Men are great at banter,” says Gus. “But we want to encourage men to escape ‘banterland’ and share their real feelings, then offer up a hug- so men know they are valued and supported by other men.”

The Man Hug is a vital component of Gotcha4Life and features on the logo. Co-creator Mike Charter says it’s all about giving your mates permission to share their feelings. “We want men to be comfortable discussing the difficult topics” says Mike, “so they know someone has their back and they’re not facing tough times alone.”

Gus, Mike and Gareth have come up with five key Gotcha4Life initiatives.

Pillar 1 –National Man Hug Day

Positive power of TOUCH

National Man Hug Day encourages men to connect at a deeper level. It’s a proven fact that human touch creates a direct human connection – it’s also proven that this action simply makes you feel better. National Man Hug Day is about giving permission to have a deeper discussion with a couple of trusted people, and then seal it with a hug. Giving a hug reinforces you are giving support – Receiving a Hug lets you know that someone has got your back.

Pillar 2 –Spreading the Word

Gotcha4Life – Creating awareness and communications

Television Program ‘How Can It Be? – Raising Mental Health’

We will use national and international channels to drive this important initiative including-TV, Inflight video, social media, radio and print. We also boast amazing corporate and individual partners supporting us in our aims.

Pillar 3 – Gotcha4Life Schools Program

Starting from the ground up.

An in-school program for Primary-aged boys, talking about what it really means to be a man in Australia. Gotcha4Life will help fund this program in schools across the country to challenge the stereotypes presented to young boys. This program drives acknowledgement, acceptance and understanding of the challenges facing males of all ages. Initially lead by ‘Bloke Whisperer’ Tom Harkin.

Pillar 4 –Gotcha4Life Start-up Program

Positive Mental Health Initiative – Spreading the love

With eight men taking their lives every day, touching the lives of many families and friends. As a result, there are countless small operators working within the mental health sphere in our society to tackle the devastating problem of depression in men. We will provide seed-funding to the worthiest individuals and organisations in a bid to network aid across the country at grassroots level.

Pillar 5 –Lifeline Councillor Scholarship Program

Tackling high call-waiting times on suicide-prevention lines.

Studies show men in crisis respond best to a male counsellor. Lifeline is critically short of counsellors- especially males. We will fund training courses for volunteers to increase the number of people manning the phone lines at Lifeline. This will reduce waiting times for people in need of urgent assistance- and give men more opportunity to speak with a trained, qualified male counsellor.

In order to best facilitate Gotcha4Life, Gus, Mike and Gareth have brought on an advisory board to provide wise counsel. This board includes international superstar Hugh Jackman.

“Hugh and I have been best friends since kindy,” says Gus. “He’s clever and he’s influential so I love having his counsel and his support on this, which is a cause so close to our hearts.”

The Gotcha 4 Life Advisory Board also includes, Dannielle Di Pilla, Curt Zuber, Jennifer Cummings and Lucy Dunn.

“We are honoured to have the support of these clever, kind and experienced people,” says Gus.

Chemist’s Warehouse is Gotcha4Life’s Founding Corporate Supporter. “They are as committed to men’s health as we are,” he says, “and we are thrilled to be backed by an organisation of their stature”.