The Courageous Story of Justin Geange – Raising Awareness of Construction Industry Suicide

The Courageous Story of Justin Geange – Raising Awareness of Construction Industry Suicide

Justin Geange, a Plumber by trade, is an amazingly courageous man.  Actually your probably know him.  He has been the mascot for the Brisbane Broncos, NSW, QLD and even a swing as the Boxing Kangaroo.  In August 2013 Justin attempted to take his own life.  He is now on a mission to spread his story, so….  “Who knows, I may be able to help someone and ensure that their family does not have to go through the heart ache that I put my family through.” 

Justin is a guest of honour on the MIC Kokoda Trek.  We are excited to have him on board.  He is a ridiculously nice bloke and will be a lot of fun and help to inspire us across the Owen Stanley Ranges in September.  Join Justin on the Trek.  Help us reach the $100k fundraising goal for MATES In Construction.

Gidday, my name is Justin Geange Plumber, Supermodel (please don’t be intimidated by my good looks!) and daggy dad joke specialist! I just wanted to share my story to encourage, support and inspire those who may be going through some tough times, it does get better and being there for your mates can mean that a problem shared is a problem halved.

I was born at an early age in Auckland New Zealand, I grew up in the Auckland area and spent my formative years in the timber town of Tokoroa in the Waikato. Most of these early days I spent singing in pubs, clubs and country music awards around New Zealand and like most awkward teenager I had my fair share of relationship issues that lead to suicide attempts.

I was in and out of hospitals in my later teenage years after attempts, breakdown and rehab for alcoholism but at the age of 18 was asked to come to Australia by my cousin to join a band. I jumped at the opportunity of starting a fresh and sold all I had to come over to Australia. I joined the band and after a few very ordinary gigs, the band dissolved and I was stuck in a foreign country with no job. So for the first time in my life I had to do some physical work to pay the bills!

I started to labour for my uncle who is a builder, but that wasn’t my cup of tea. Then I worked for a South African bricklayer, and an Aussie concreter and finally an Aussie plumber. It was then that I realised that I loved plumbing “It may be sewerage to you but it’s bread and butter to me” was the catch cry of a good plumbing friend of mine! And in 1993 I went to TAFE and started a prevocational course in plumbing (I always wanted to be an electrician, but my dad told me to get a trade first!!!!!) 1993 was also the year where I fell in love with the most amazing woman Marnie, she was a dancer with a smile bigger than the Sydney harbour bridge and whose eyes would light the darkest of rooms. We met at church, performing in Christmas and Easter musical productions and were married in September 1994.

1994 was a big year, getting married, getting an adult plumbing apprenticeship with Queensland Rail and starting my Mascotting career with the Brisbane Broncos. I started as the Post Box, then moved my way up to buster the cowboy hat, then the Employer Bull and in 2000 I started as Buck the Bronco (as well as throwing in a few state of origin appearances as the cane toad and cockroach and one test match as the boxing kangaroo)

The years fairly flew by, I worked my way up the ladder at Queensland Rail, Marnie and I travelled extensively as we tried for years to have children then finally after trying many potions and different styles of IVF we finally had our first baby Tegan in 2005 and then Chelsea in 2008 (Chelsea looks like me and Tegan looks like, well the gynaecologist!!!LOL) During this time I thought I would try my hand at running a plumbing business, a business that I turned into a very small one in a short amount of time and as a result was very fortunate to get another job back in the railways where again I began to climb the ladder.

In 2012 I decided that I was going to change the world! And so I ran in the state election for Family First where I grabbed 8% of the vote in my electorate the highest for any family first member across the state of Queensland. I was writing songs like “Our time to Shine” and “It’s all about you” Not to stop there I auditioned for Australia’s Got Talent where I got through to the semi-finals meeting some amazingly talented people like Johnny Taylor and Flowers for Midnight a great experience but left me exhausted. At this stage there was also a change in government and as such a change in direction at work and for the first time in a long time I felt real anxiety and fear for my position in the company and life in general. My emotional bank account was virtually bankrupt and I admitted myself into the Psyc ward of Logan Hospital.

It was during that hospital stay that the doctors slapped the label of Bipolar type two on me and medicated me accordingly, I have written songs, skits and books (one of them Chelsea’s Lullaby for my daughter Chelsea) ) and the last thing that I wanted, was to lose my creativity through the medication, so I created a character called Cuzzy Bro and started to make a few skits to keep my creativity active

2013 came along and things were getting worse at work, the section I was in had the hammer over our heads for over a year, I was struggling and my moods were getting worse. The weight and burden of the thought that I soon would not be able to provide for my family became all-encompassing and too much to bear. My logic had become skewed (Like sitting in the front row of a movie and not being able to see the big picture) and I came to the conclusion that the only way to provide for my family was to take my life and activate my life insurance for them. So on the 1st of August 2013 I attempted suicide. But God had other plans for me, a string of what can only be described as miracles meant I was found in time and am here today because of those events.

What I did not realise at the time, was the effect that my actions had on my friends and family. The very ones I was trying to protect were the ones who got damaged the most. Blokes at work who I had shared 20 years of my life with, salt of the earth genuine great Aussie mates were shattered, I didn’t realise that a lot of them were going through exactly what I was going through because as blokes we just don’t talk about it. But I have been given a second, third, fourth and fifth chance and I am going to make the most of it. I want to start this difficult conversation; I want to make sure that no other family has to go through what I have put my beautiful family through. So in hospital I wrote a daggy song to remind me  to talk when I am struggling and to ask the question of folks who may be going through what I went through.

A friend of mine painted a clear picture for me, he said suicide is like a hand grenade, the people close to the blast get damaged the most but the shrapnel spreads far and wide damaging more people than we would ever dream of.  Everyone has value, everyone has a purpose and a plan for their life, everyone has someone who wants them to come home in onepiece both mentally and physically and I am determined to share my story where ever I can to make a difference to whoever I can. Who knows, I may be able to help someone and ensure that their family does not have to go through the heart ache that I put my family through.

If you are doing it tough right now, talk to someone close or call Lifeline 131114 or Beyond Blue “Man Therapy” 1300222638 or chat online

You are valued my friend! Keep fighting the good fight!


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