When all hope is lost and you are at the end of your rope, whom do you call?
Until recently, you could call Eric Trezise (1930-2021), friend of the friendless and hope for the hopeless. Sadly, Eric passed from this life to the next recently, at 91 years of age.
I first met Eric Trezise at the Dads4Kids Fatherhood Forum in Parliament House, Canberra in 2005.
Tony Miller, founder of Dads In Distress, introduced me to Eric and his son Roger. See the video below of Eric’s speech at the Men’s Health Summit, 2009.
Eric Trezise personally saved more men from suicide than any man I know, and his life story is absolutely fascinating.
Eric Trezise’s working life began as a missionary to remote cattle stations and Aboriginal communities from the ‘Red Heart’ to Cape York. After marrying Deirdre in 1957, he served five years as a pastor to the jail in Palm Island,.
During this thirteen-year period he sometimes had to wear other hats, often as undertaker, gravedigger, grief counsellor and officiating minister at funeral services.
Twenty years of service with the Australian Defence Forces followed as an ‘Everyman’s Welfare Office’. As Chief Commissioner of the organisation, he managed the Service’s operation for South-East Asia, made a tour of inspection of Australian and American units (Vietnam 1969), and served a tour of duty with 2 RAR in Vietnam in 1971.
On his return, while still serving with the Australian Army, he was co-founder of ‘Adventure Bound (AUS)’, a wilderness youth resilience and retraining program, working with young army recruits and apprentices who were having difficulty adjusting to military life. The program resulted in a 70% retention rate with those who otherwise were facing discharge.
The program proved so successful with Army recruits and trainees that it was also used in the civil community, endorsed by the Education Department, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and various colleges and universities.
On Eric’s retirement to the Central Coast, he was alarmed to read of young people suiciding, and sought the help of the then-coroner and Area Health’s Outcomes Council to find a way to effectively help reduce this growing problem. From this beginning the Suicide Safety Network began in 1996.
As president, Eric had a very dedicated committee and worked with the NSW Premier’s Office, Coroner’s Office and Centre for Mental Health for twelve years, developing community strategies to combat one of Australia’s worst areas of youth and adult suicide in the 20-40 age group.
During this time, Eric was called to attend the sites of some 400 suicides and homicide. He also conducted Suicide Prevention Workshops and supported family members and friends of the deceased, conducting many funeral services.
Eric used his 60 years’ experience as a negotiator/grief counsellor to develop a recovery workshop manual used throughout Australia.
In 2000, he was awarded the OAM for his efforts to reduce youth suicide on the Central Coast, and in 2003, he received the Australian Centenary Medal for the development of strategies and programs directed at the high rate of male suicide among men in their 20s -40s.
In the decades preceding his death, Eric support the Dads4Kids Fatherhood Foundation in its efforts to raise awareness in the community and government to the inequities and injustices endured by men in Family Court judgements.
His published work includes:
- Suicide… Help! A Quick Look Handbook
- Picking up Life’s Pieces After a Suicide
- One Step at a Time: A Bereavement Recovery Workshop Manual
- After Sudden Death: What Happens Now?
- If Suicide is the Answer: What’s the Question
- Suicide and Attempted Suicide Affecting a School Community
Eric was a member of the Dads4Kids National Men & Father’s Health Roundtable, supporting Senator Cory Bernardi, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Men’s Health. The aim was to ensure that the governments Men’s Health Policy was not formulated on the present ‘male-deficit image’ which is the major blockage to a more balanced male-positive approach to the many ineffective male bashing programs.
Eric and his wife of over 60 years and partner in all his projects have two sons, Graham and Roger.
At Eric’s funeral, his son Roger’s speech was deeply moving. Read it here. Here is a short excerpt:
My Dad was true visionary. An ideas man. Sometimes incredibly positive and uplifting…
He, with help from a small band of believers created Liberty Ranch, among other ventures. He had a passion to lead and guide the youth and young adults of Bathurst to the teachings and the wonderful love of the Lord Jesus Christ.
My father had come alive (when he we moved to Bathurst) and it was exciting, and I think the young people and the belief in the adventure and God’s hand in it, spurred it on. That time was one of my greatest memories of my Da. But the most notable memory throughout my life was his lovely deep, rich, singing voice in the bass/baritone range. His harmonies were glorious, his vibrato lovely, his range and volume just wonderful. And when he and Ma, a lovely alto, sang together, it felt like the world stopped just to listen…
I’d like to think that in Da’s last moments on earth, the Lord Jesus held him close and said, “You fought the good fight. Now it’s time to rest… Come home Eric.”
Hopefully, there will come a time when we all hear those words.
Great men are always worth reading about and knowing about. Tell your children stories about great men like Eric. Our children need to hear these narratives from us first. Such stories bring hope for all of us!
Yours for Hope for the Hopeless,
PS. Now is the time for each of us to rise up and fill Eric’s shoes, be part of the answer and be a friend to the lost and lonely.