Horrendous X-ray after 26-storey fall
Jacob Pearce vaguely remembers the day of his mate's bucks party.
The 31-year-old Melbourne electrician and 40 friends began the festivities early that day.
They headed to the coast on a two-hour boozy bus ride for a races event, before returning back to the city at a mate's apartment.
By then, Mr Pearce was heavily intoxicated with drugs and alcohol and while waiting for his friends to get ready, the 28-year-old at the time, stumbled outside and onto the balcony.
He had no idea his life was about to change forever.
"I peered over the edge of the balcony and I rolled over and ended up falling 24 stories from the high rise building," Mr Pearce told news.com.au about the horrific March 2017 accident.
"I landed on a second storey underneath which actually saved my life as it absorbed the impact of the fall."
Mr Pearce said the last thing he could remember was about 2pm, "and apparently after that I was an absolute mess. I wasn't in a good state at all".
His traumatised friends watched on until ambulance, police and firefighters arrived on the scene within minutes.
Mr Pearce was rushed to hospital and placed in an induced coma for four days.
"I remember waking up on a Wednesday and having no idea what was going on - all my family was looking at me crying. I had no recollection of the day until my friends told me what happened."
"I couldn't believe it. It was the craziest thing I've ever heard; to be told you have fallen 26 storey's from a high-rise building only to survive. It was an absolute miracle."
Mr Pearce broke his pelvis in three places, punctured his lungs, had 20 fractures in ribs and also broke is arm. He now has a titanium rod in his arm for the rest of his life.
He spent a month recovering in hospital then five weeks in rehab learning how to walk again.
Then just four months after he returned to his electrical job on light duties, he began to suffer excruciating stomach pains.
A CAT scan revealed his stomach organs had herniated through his diaphragm and into his chest as a result of the fall.
He went from weighing 80kg to just 62kg in one week. "Going through that knocked me around the most because I lived through it, whereas the fall was more traumatic for everyone else."
Sadly, what Mr Pearce's family and friends didn't realise was that for most of the 10 years previous to the fall, from when he was a teen and into his adult life, he had been battling severe depression and mental health issues.
"For many years I relied on alcohol and drugs to numb my pain and to help me get through each week, but it came to a point where I nearly lost my life because of my mental health."
Mr Pearce, who now owns his own electrical company, remembers telling a friend about his struggles when he was 18 years old, but was told not to tell anyone because it was "weird".
"So I decided to hold it in and suffer in silence."
After his near-death experience and losing a cousin to suicide as a result of mental health issues, Mr Pearce decided it was time to break the stigma, seek help, and hope his actions would encourage other men also suffering to seek help.
And he did just that. The tradie went on to raise more than $90,000 for the charity ALIVE, campaigning for young people's mental health.
He went on to become their national fundraising manager with his efforts earning him the title of Invoice2go's Community Tradie of the Year award.
"I like to call myself an electrician by day and mental health warrior by night," he said, laughing.
He was humbled to receive the award which has given him a platform to tell his story and talk about something that is incredibly important - mental health.
"This makes me proud of what I've achieved, and gives me renewed vigour for the future - both as a trade and a campaigner."
Mr Pearce said he is going to continue to advocate to help other blokes and tradies open up about their struggles.
"Right now I feel great, but I still need to keep working on my mental health or I'll go off track and into a hole again. But I am in a much better place."
Originally published as Horrendous X-ray after 26-storey fall