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After A Friend’s Suicide, These Guys Are Trying To Get Zac Efron To Raise Money For Men’s Health

The group have started a fundraiser to help stop the stigma around men's mental health.

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Following the death of a good friend and family member, a community has rallied together to raise funds for men's health.

Rhys McNaughton, a 24-year-old Australian who was a successful sportsman and friend to many, killed himself last week. The news came as a shock and was felt throughout Rhys's northern New South Wales community, especially considering, as close friend James Healey told BuzzFeed News, McNaughton rarely showed signs of issues with mental health.

"I mean as far as the majority and myself are concerned Rhys never had any known issues or never showed signs of weakness," Healey said. "I was talking to probably his closest mate just last night, and he did mention that despite Rhys appearing all good and happy he did have a few moments of sadness and depression, and did talk – but only in small snippets of hard times. ... However, it was just brushed off with that classic 'everything will be alright' chat."

Now, McNaughton's friends are trying to raise funds and awareness of men's health issues, with a Facebook post to Ellen DeGeneres's page picking up hundreds of shares and thousands of likes.

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In the post, Healey writes about trying to get the attention of Zac Efron – who Rhys's friends say was his doppelganger – to help bring the issue to more people.

"I wouldn't often do this, and I don't even know how responsive celebrity pages are but I am going through a tough time at the moment and want to share a story with you about my friend Rhys.... affectionately known as Zeffa," writes Healey.

"Rhys was an absolute legend, with a zest for life I had never seen in a person before, a fierce and competitive spirit on the rugby pitch and a caring and nurturing soft-side that any male would be ashamed to admit, Zefron had looks which could undoubtedly match yours.

"When he first rocked up to University (College) from day one he shone light into all of our lives, and whispers began to spread that ‘the real’ Zac Efron had arrived at Uni. I completely agreed he had un-paralleled, absolutely identical looks to our favourite High School Musical Star."

You can read the full letter here:

Facebook

"The death of Rhys has made me realise that we often overlook suicide as a health issue, particularly in the male sector because it is often seen as a weakness," Healey told BuzzFeed News.

"When we are so engaged with curing physical health issues it is easy to forget that mental issues can cause just as much harm.

"I never ever want a friend, family member, or anyone to ever feel as sad and hopeless inside that they cannot even talk about it. Being a male, sharing your feelings is just something we never do."

A fundraiser has since been set up through Movember, an Australian charity event that promotes men's health.

au.movember.com

"Everyone is on board, and I have received so many personal messages of support as well as comments on the post that really show it is a huge issue.

"We are second in Australia for the Movember campaign, with $22,000 already raised and it is only the 3rd of November [Movember lasts for the whole month of November]."

Healey said he hadn't heard anything from Ellen DeGeneres's people or Zac Efron yet, but hoped to try to get more momentum for the fundraiser by appearing on radio stations and approaching Zac Efron's management.

"I didn't really expect anything," he said, "but I think a lot of people outside of my friends have now liked, shared and seen it. ... At the moment it is really just people putting their own $20 worth in, so a lot of individual donations."

Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Brad Esposito at bradley.esposito@buzzfeed.com.

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