Two years ago today Earl Silverman threw a rope over the rafters in his garage and used it to hang himself. It was a tragic end to one very good man’s dogged and tireless efforts to establish a shelter for Canadian men who were victims of violent partners.
Earl’s tenacity in life made the shock and sense of loss of his death all the more profound. It was also a source of outrage for many of us as we watched the feminist community, the mainstream media and the Canadian government look the other way and whistle about a suicide which they played a role in causing.
The people with the resources, political muscle and public influence in the area of domestic violence had ignored, dismissed and even mocked Earl for years. All he wanted to do was help people. All they wanted him to do was shut up.
Score one for their side. Earl will never pester them again about the victims they throw under the bus each and every day. They are culpable in his death as surely as if they had tied the noose and fitted it around his neck.
When it came to Earl’s personal decision to end his life, I think Karen Straughan had the most incisive view of the matter. And she knew the man far better than I did. I can only paraphrase from memory, but she said she did not believe that Earl killed himself in a fit of despair or self-pity. He took his life hoping that it would bring attention to the problems people were ignoring. In a sense, he intended his death to be a continuation of his work to make something good happen for an egregiously underserved population. It was, in a sense, a strategic suicide driven by desperation.
I choose to believe Karen is right. Rest in Peace, Mr. Silverman.
It is fitting, then, that this post also involves another tenacious, driven Canadian man who has spent so many years pounding the often icy pavement in Hamilton, Ontario, reaching out to help homeless men and spreading the word about men’s issues to as many people as possible. He literally never stops.
Yes, it is Dan Perrins. And he is about to do a lot more pavement pounding. This time the 75 mile stretch between Hamilton and Toronto. Danny is undertaking the trek to do what he has so often done before: Raise money to help the disadvantaged and marginalized men via the Canadian Association for Equality.
From their website:
“We are pleased to announce that Dan Perrins and his canine companion Jeb, will be participating in Canada’s national Mental Health Week this year. The way Dan has chosen participate is to walk from outside of Hamilton to Queen’s Park Toronto. He has dedicated this walk to his older brother Anthony Perrins who killed himself on May 8, 1982 and Earl Silverman a friend and fellow human rights advocate, who killed himself on April 26, 2013.
Dan himself has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress disorder and is familiar with the current mental health system in Ontario. His dog Jeb is part of his therapy for PTSD.
He’s called it the “Men-Tell Health Because Silence is Deadly” walk in the hopes of encouraging men to reach out for help. He also wants to raise awareness about the lack of help for men who do reach out.
Jeb and Dan will start in Dundas, just outside of Hamilton, and walk towards Toronto. They’ll be stopping at city halls of the municipalities along the way to hand deliver letters highlighting the necessity and urgency for an increase in mental health services geared towards men. It will take him about 5 days to cover the distance, which will be about 75 miles in total. Further details of the route Jeb has picked out for them will be announced shortly.
He will be staying in each city for a few hours most likely around 10 am – 2 pm along the way for a few hours to talk to people each day too.
Dan has chosen to walk for the Canadian Centre for Men and Families. Donations will help programs for men currently running at the centre, such as counselling, peer support, mindfulness meditation and legal resources, and help to create a larger variety of services to serve a wider population.
To support men’s mental health, click here to donate now. Be sure to designate the donation to the “Men-Tell Health Walk (Because men not asking for help is deadly)” fund.
Dan is also inviting all those who support men’s mental health to join him for legs of the walk.”
AVFM is pledging a $3.00 per mile donation to CAFE for this project, and we are challenging all who are willing and able to add to that total. If you can’t give and you live in the area, please consider walking side by side with Dan in one or more of the legs of his walk.
I also want extend a public salute to Dan Perrins for once again putting the “active” in activism in ways that most human beings simply won’t do.
I don’t know if there is a heaven, but if there is I am betting Earl Silverman is there right now, smiling about Dannyboy.
I know I am.