Playing a part in a lifechanging legacy
The heartbroken uncle of a Geelong teenager tragically lost to suicide last year is channeling his grief into an inspiring new event which shines a light on men’s mental health.
‘Play on! Lead with your heart’ will take place at St Mary’s Sporting Club on August 15 and is part of Boh Evans’ heartfelt mission to make a difference.
Boh’s beloved nephew, 15-year-old St Joseph’s student Abraham Knox, took his life in May 2020 and the enormity of the loss motivated his uncle to play a part in raising awareness of mental health issues and strategies for building resilience.
Boh will speak at the alcohol-free event to share his experiences of overcoming personal struggles and learning to manage his anxiety to establish a happy and fulfilling life.
He will be joined by Joel Hines from The Man Cave, a youth mental health program, and Mark Kluwer from Elevated Springs who is a cold water immersion and breathwork instructor.
Boh said the idea to run events came about after he made a decision to take his grief and turn it into a positive strength that would hopefully make a difference to others, in particular young men like Abraham.
“I had always wanted to help Abraham because I knew he had his own struggles with anxiety,” Boh recalled.
“But I always thought I didn’t have much to offer because I had my own issues to deal with … so unfortunately that time never came with Abraham.
“In the months following Abe’s death I felt very regretful. I was quite angry, frustrated, confused, and I just felt there were so many ‘what ifs’.
“I vowed to uphold a legacy in Abraham’s memory, that I would do better; better as an uncle, better as a father, better as a brother, better as a husband, better as a man.”
Boh said while he had lost close friends to suicide, no loss had compared to the death of his sister’s beautiful son who was a proud Noongar Yamatji man, a leader for young Aboriginal people in the Wathaurung community and a talented basketball umpire with dreams of refereeing at the Olympics.
“One of the common denominators with so many suicides is, like Abraham, they just had so much to offer,” he said.
Boh, 45, has struggled with anxiety since childhood which saw him leave school early, fall in with the wrong crowd and be involved in a major car accident at age 16.
“That brought on post-traumatic stress disorder and then my problems compounded from there into a cycle of risk-taking behaviour and more accidents over a 14-year period of really self-destructive behaviour until I ended up incarcerated,” he said.
“That was the catalyst for me to say ‘that’s enough, this is not who I am and I need to change my life’.
“Luckily when I got out of a short stint in prison I met my wife, Catherine, and she helped me turn my life around.
“We are now regenerative farmers on a free range pig and chicken farm near Daylesford, we’ve got five beautiful children and we live a really holistic, clean lifestyle – the total opposite to the way I was back in the day.
“I’m still struggling with my own issues, things don’t just get better, but I’ve done my best to get us where we are now which is a beautiful, happy, healthy lifestyle.”
It is a brutally honest story Boh will share in depth at the event which can cater for 150 people, with proceeds going to Hope Bereavement Care Geelong.
“I do have a lot to offer because I’ve been down a dark road throughout my life and I’ve come through the other side,” Boh said.
“Through my story, and educating myself on the theory side of everything, I need to build something where I can go out and help others.
“In doing that I feel I can honour Abraham – sort of making up for what I didn’t do.
“I feel like myself, Mark and Joel have got something very unique between the three of us and fate has brought us together and I think it is the recipe for success to hopefully change some mindsets.”
‘Play on! Lead with your heart’ will be held at St Mary’s Football Club, South Geelong, on Sunday, August 15 from 10am to 2pm. To purchase tickets search ‘play on lead with heart humantix’ on Google.
Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health.
If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone who is considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide, the Suicide Call Back Service is available at 1300 659 467 or on their website.