Dowling: We must speak out
He has lent his voice to a charity to raise awareness of mental health issues in men but there are days that Jamie Dowling wonders whether he is being heard at all.
Last weekend the Gold Coast rugby league community lost another young man in Chris Kitching, bringing back painful memories of the day that Dowling lost his good friend Dwayne Lally less than two years ago.
On Sunday the Burleigh Bears awarded Tyler Chadburn the Hayden Butler Medal in honour of another Burleigh boy gone too soon, passing away in February after linking with the Mackay Cutters in the pre-season.
Dowling's pain stems not simply from the loss of a mate but from knowing their heartache, knowing their sense of helplessness before he thankfully began to confide in friends and family about his own issues.
Now bursting with pride at becoming a father to daughter Willow in the past week, the Titans centre is in a place in his life where he can talk about his struggles as a way of helping others to overcome theirs.
Lally's passing in September 2013 led to Dowling's good friends Casey Lyons and Sam Webb to start LIVIN, a registered charity aligned with beyondblue that is endeavouring to spread the mantra that "it ain't weak to speak".
"As rugby league players everyone thinks you've got to be tough and it's not always great to show your weaknesses," says Dowling.
"You don't have to tell everyone about it but it's definitely important to go and see the club doctor or just someone.
"For me personally, it started off a little bit before Dwayne, family-related stuff. After Dwayne happened it hit me in a big way, made me question a lot of things.
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