Friday, 2 March 2012

Fed: Rugby player's loss shocks family, friends

AAP General News (Australia)
Fed: Rugby player's loss shocks family, friends

By Janelle Miles

BRISBANE, AAP - On the surface, Queensland Reds' rugby player Michael Tabrett appeared
to be on top of the world.

The popular 22-year-old with a promising football career in front of him gave a customary
blast on the horn of his ute as he drove away from training on Friday.

He seemed full of life after completing what would be his last training session at
Marist Brothers, Ashgrove, in Brisbane's west.

The next day he went surfing with team mates and sometime later ended his own life
in the Brisbane apartment he shared with a friend.

Tabrett's death has shocked his parents and the Queensland rugby community.

People who knew him are struggling to understand why a young man with so much to live
for would sink to such hopelessness he would end it all.

Tabrett's career had never looked so bright.

This year, he played for Australia A against Japan and started in a Super 12 game for
Queensland for the first time.

After playing 11 games for the Reds, he was in the running to fill the outside centre
vacancy on a full-time basis next season.

And some in the sport believed the keen fisherman had enough talent to one day pull
on a coveted Wallaby jersey.

Tabrett was not a loner, not subject to mood swings and showed no signs of depression,
according to those close to him.

He'd been part of the Reds' family for five years, starting out as an apprentice groundsman
at Ballymore and joining the Reds' Rugby College before eventually signing on as a full-time

Life in the Tabrett family was also going well.

His sister had recently married and a younger brother was soon to celebrate his 21st birthday.

The reasons for Tabrett's suicide may never be known, making the bereavement process
for those left behind harder to bear.

But it's understood three old boys in the same year at Tabrett's former high school
have also committed suicide, leaving many unanswered questions for those who knew them.

His Queensland team mates returned to training today but are expected to need ongoing
grief counselling to help them cope with the loss.

Tabrett, who will be farewelled at a funeral service on Thursday, is one of about 2400
Australians who commit suicide every year with men four times more likely to end their
lives than women.

Australia is ranked 13th out of 30 World Health Organisation countries for rates of
suicide in males aged 15 to 24.

But incidences in the 20 to 24 year age group have been decreasing since 1997.

Psychologist Bob Montgomery says part of the answer for men taking their own lives
may lie in Australia's macho culture where men, particularly footballers, are not encouraged
to talk about their emotions.

"It's a mistake in teaching men that they're supposed to be emotionally bulletproof," he said.

"Men are taught to keep their feelings to themselves and you're talking about someone
who's a footballer.

"I'd have thought they'd get an extra dose of that masculinity, the idea of: 'I'm not
hurt if there's no bones showing'.

"Traditional notions of masculinity serve men very badly."

Professor Montgomery, the head of the Centre for Applied Psychology at the University
of Canberra, said last year's bushfires in the nation's capital had highlighted the difficulties
many men had in accepting they may need help for an emotional problem.

"The men won't go and talk to anyone," he said.

"We're seeing ... a number of wives and mothers who are ringing up about the men in
their family who are clearly suffering as a result of the bushfires.

"The men ... think they should be able to tough it through."

Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention clinical psychologist, Jacinta
Hawgood, said the community needed to be better educated about identifying risk factors
associated with suicide.

"It is often the case when there are apparently no warning signs for suicide that it
is because of the fact that many people are not aware of or do not have the knowledge
to identify what these warning signs are," she said.

Ms Hawgood said warning signs for suicidal behaviour included lack of interest or pleasure
in activities, boredom, self-destructive behaviours, disturbance of sleep, pre-occupation
with death, feelings of hopelessness and giving away personal belongings.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts or friends and family who notice warning signs
in their loved ones should phone Lifeline on 13 1114 or contact a general practitioner
or counsellor for help.

AAP jhm/sc/mo


2003 AAP Information Services Pty Limited (AAP) or its Licensors.

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