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Local gamers 'duking it out' at Warhammer tournament for men's mental health

A local gaming group battled it out on the tabletops Saturday to raise money for men's mental health.

The 40 Hours of 40K Canada fundraiser brought together gamers, military members, miniature painters and hobbyists for almost two straight days of Warhammer 40,000.

Warhammer is a miniature tabletop wargame played around the world.

The money raised will go to Heads Up Guys, an organization supporting mental health awareness and suicide prevention for men.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada reported in 2022 that men make up 75 per cent of annual estimated suicide deaths in Canada.

According to the commission, contributing factors include adhering to traditional masculine norms, reduced mental health literacy and a lower likelihood to seek help.

"Guys don't talk. We're supposed to be tough and stoic," Brad Newell, a supporter of Heads Up Guys, said. "We think we're the only ones that are weak when we're not."

Newell said his organization offers resources, information and a free depression screening tool for men.

"Every guy should do it," Newell said.

Jan-Philip Lacasse, a military veteran and organizer of 40 Hours of 40K Canada, said it's important to raise awareness around men's mental health because so many men don't talk about it.

"With my army background, I've lost so many friends to suicide," he said. "I met a lot of guys that were struggling very much with mental health."

Lacasse was medically discharged from the military in 2019. He said painting Warhammer miniatures (and therapy) have helped him manage his mental health.

40 Hours of 40K Canada organizer Jan-Philip Lacasse said painting Warhammer miniatures helped him with his mental health after he was medically discharged from the military in 2019. (Galan McDougall/CTV News Edmonton)He created 40 Hours of 40K Canada after volunteering at a similar Warhammer fundraiser for men's mental health in the United Kingdom.

Friday night, the marathon kicked off at Industrial Park Games.

Around 50 competitors were expected to play in a round-robin over the weekend.

Unlike a traditional Warhammer tournament, the winner won't walk away with any award or accolades. However, Lacasse said that didn't dampen spirits.

"Our goal is really to focus on raising awareness to men's mental health and suicide prevention," he added. "The guys are duking it out, but it's very gentlemanly."

Saturday evening, the group had raised nearly $7,000 of a $10,000 goal.

The competition wraps up Sunday at 11 a.m.

For more information on the event or to donate, click here

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jessica Robb

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