Les Miserables star confronts disturbing suicide rates


Opening to rave reviews on the weekend, Les Miserables certainly has Bundaberg talking.

From the great acting to the live orchestra, amazing sets and special effects, more than 3000 people have already seen or booked tickets to this interpretation of Les Miserables, by Director Rebecca Hutchins.

There are still tickets left for the remaining three performances this weekend.

For one performer it’s been a very personal journey.

suicide rates
Michael Dart, who plays Jean Val Jean, is raising awareness about Australia's disturbing suicide rates.

Michael Dart plays lead character Jean Val Jean, a convict who goes on a journey of self-discovery and redemption.

If you look up Michael’s profile in the beautiful Les Miserables program you will see that he dedicates this performance to raising awareness of Australian suicide rates.

“Today in Australia, eight people will have taken their lives,” he said.

“Of those eight, six are men. There's been a 41 per cent increase in male suicide in the past decade.”

He said 2300 males take their lives every year and 65,000 people attempt suicide each year.

While mental health is an issue across the community (there was a nine per cent increase in the number of suicides of both men and women last year), Michael said men are three times more likely to take their own lives.

Suicide claims more lives than road toll

Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australian men aged 15 to 44; more than double the national road toll.

“To be honest it’s a national emergency but we can all do something about it,” Michael said.

“I have had a number of friends commit suicide and I wanted to do something about that instead of feeling helpless.

“Since I started raising awareness I’ve been able to refer people in trouble to support services.

“It’s something we can all do. Talking, listening and being there for someone doing it tough can be life saving.

“I use every opportunity in my personal or professional life, as the general manager of customer, brand and external relations for Energy Queensland, which includes Ergon Energy, to raise awareness.

“We have great programs in our business through a dedicated team of ‘Mates in Energy' supporters. I also support the work of Movemeber and other suicide awareness programs.

“Just as in the setting of Les Miserables in the 1800s, in the lead up to the French Revolution there were similar pressures in society as what we face today.

“Financial pressures, breaking the law, school students rallying to a cause, family relationship breakdowns and internal self-doubt. It’s not that different to 2019.”

Featuring a live orchestra comprising 21 of the region’s finest musicians and a cast of more than 60 actors and vocalists, this intensely moving and emotionally charged production is a must-see for all theatre lovers.

Evening performances remain on April 5 and 6 at 7.30pm, with a matinee on Saturday, April 6 at 2pm.

You can buy tickets at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre Box Office or online.

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