What do moustaches, charities and the Gregorian calendar have in common? The answer is Movember.com.
In 2003, Adam and Travis Garone of Melbourne, Australia, organized an event in which 30 men grew moustaches for 30 days. Their end goal was simply to raise awareness for prostate cancer with the hopes of raising a few dollars along the way. Little did they know that they would start a global movement to raise awareness for men’s health issues.
It all happened pretty quickly. By only its second year of operation in 2004, participants—called Mo Bros—spanned as far as Spain and the United Kingdom. Four hundred and fifty Mo Bros grew their upper lip hair that year and raised 54,000 Australian (AU) dollars (41,400 American dollars). By the next year, over 9,000 people had joined in on the fun and raised AU $1.2 million (US $920,00). The Garone brothers even gave the movement an official tagline: “Give Prostate Cancer a Kick in the Arse.” By 2006, the Movember Foundation was an official charity recognized by the Australian government. The boys were in business.
When the organization became official, its tagline became “Changing the face of men’s health.” Though less whimsical than the last, this slogan was both more clever and harder-hitting. The numbers have shown it: today, more than five million Mo Bros (and “Mo Sistas”) participate worldwide during the month of November. It is ranked at number 49 among the top 500 non-governmental organizations worldwide according to the list curated by NGO Advisor in Geneva.
Movember’s causes have now expanded: prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s suicide are all part of its mission to advocate for men’s health. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Testicular cancer strikes primarily in young men, with the average age of diagnosis being 33. Suicide is most prevalent in men, as in 2015, 78 percent of suicides were committed by boys and men.
This year, I decided to become a Mo Bro. Against the advice of some of my friends, who said I would look creepy with a moustache (which I do), I was particularly motivated this November because of what I had recently seen in the news. In the past few months, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Chester Bennington of Linkin Park killed themselves. As a rock and metal fan, I was shocked and hurt. As a human being, I was devastated. I did some research and discovered the extreme gender disparity in suicide rates, but I knew there wasn’t much I could do beyond talking people I knew out of it. And that’s no easy task, especially for a young college student.
Fast forward to October of this year, to the Chester Bennington memorial show by Linkin Park in Hollywood. Its theme was to celebrate life, in honor of Chester. As I watched and read about it, I again considered what effect I could have on preventing suicide and encouraging living. I remembered Movember. I had only heard of Movember in passing before, but I looked into it and found out how easy it was to join. I also discovered that I could declare men’s suicide as my cause, at which point any funds I raise will go toward The Prevention Institute and Movember’s own mental health charity: the Awareness and Education Project. Cliché as it sounds, I realized that I really can have an impact on the global fight to combat suicide and promote living.
I set my goal at a modest $100, and I am excited to see if I can meet or even surpass that goal. If you would like to donate to my cause, please visit mobro.co/jordanmel. Every dollar helps. Join me in promoting mental health and fighting cancer for men and for humans in general. Hopefully, I’ll see you next year as a Mo Bro or Mo Sista.