Mustache or no mustache, this moving Movember message about suicide is for everyone.

When people think of Movember, chances are the first thing to pop into their heads is an image like this:

Image via iStock.

This next one, though? Maybe not. But it's an image the actual Movember Foundation wants everyone to remember.

All photos by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images for Movember Foundation.


On the morning of Nov. 1, the Movember Foundation placed 191 shoes on the shore of Australia's Bondi Beach as tribute to the 191 Aussie men that took their own lives in the past month.

Led by co-founder Adam Garone, the installation is meant to spotlight one of Australia's most pressing issues — suicide is the leading cause of death for Aussie people between the ages of 15 and 44.

"We wanted to bring awareness to the gravity of the situation and pull it out of the shadows. Very few people know the extent that this is impacting our community," Garone told The Daily Telegraph.

More than a tribute, the moving installation is also a message for men dealing with mental health issues that they're not alone.

"There are going to be a lot of men who read this article and will see the images that we did today who are in a really dark place," Garone added to The Daily Telegraph.

"What we want to try and inspire is for them to think differently about how they’re tackling this and for them to talk with their mates, their partner or to seek some kind of help," he said.

Yes, Movember is a time for super fun, outlandish facial hair. But let's not forget the meaning behind the mustache.

From its humble beginnings as a bar bet to becoming one of the world's top NGOs, the Movember Foundation has used the mustache as a conversation starter for important men's health issues around the world.

Along with mental health and suicide prevention, the Foundation is also at the forefront of tackling prostate and testicular cancer. In fact, the NGO has raised over half a billion dollars since it started and has used funds to form scientific super teams to help produce significant treatment breakthroughs.

Understanding what Movember is all about makes the mustache that much more meaningful. Even if everyone can't grow one, one thing we can all do is contribute to the cause.

Here's to that little conversation starter sparking more action.

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When Molly Reeser was a student at Michigan State University, she took a job mucking horse stalls to help pay for classes. While she was there, she met a 10-year-old girl named Casey, who was being treated for cancer, and — because both were animal lovers — they became fast friends.

Two years later, Casey died of cancer.

"Everyone at the barn wanted to do something to honor her memory," Molly remembers. A lot of suggestions were thrown out, but Molly knew that there was a bigger, more enduring way to do it.

"I saw firsthand how horses helped Casey and her family escape from the difficult and terrifying times they were enduring. I knew that there must be other families who could benefit from horses in the way she and her family had."

Molly approached the barn owners and asked if they would be open to letting her hold a one-day event. She wanted to bring pediatric cancer patients to the farm, where they could enjoy the horses and peaceful setting. They agreed, and with the help of her closest friends and the "emergency" credit card her parents had given her, Molly created her first Camp Casey. She worked with the local hospital where Casey had been a patient and invited 20 patients, their siblings and their parents.

The event was a huge success — and it was originally meant to be just that: a one-day thing. But, Molly says, "I believe Casey had other plans."

One week after the event, Molly received a letter from a five-year-old boy who had brain cancer. He had been at Camp Casey and said it was "the best day of his life."

"[After that], I knew that we had to pull it off again," Molly says. And they did. Every month for the next few years, they threw a Camp Casey. And when Molly graduated, she did the most terrifying thing she had ever done and told her parents that she would be waitressing for a year to see if it might be possible to turn Camp Casey into an actual nonprofit organization. That year of waitressing turned into six, but in the end she was able to pull it off: by 2010, Camp Casey became a non-profit with a paid staff.

"I am grateful for all the ways I've experienced good luck in my life and, therefore, I believe I have a responsibility to give back. It brings me tremendous joy to see people, animals, or things coming together to create goodness in a world that can often be filled with hardships."

Camp Casey serves 1500 children under the age of 18 each year in Michigan. "The organization looks different than when it started," Molly says. "We now operate four cost-free programs that bring accessible horseback riding and recreational services to children with cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening illnesses."

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