Region Media, Editor’s note:
The death of a loved one is always difficult to comprehend. It is made infinitely more difficult when that death is sudden and a result of suicide. It is a grief that can cripple you, as you struggle to find ways to cope with your loss.
For Ian – who lost a dear friend to suicide this week – penning the following reflection was his way of coping.
The importance of good mental health cannot be stressed enough. Yet, every day, we are saddened by news of people around us taking their own life, leaving the ones who love them to deal with the life that is left.
If you are struggling, please reach out to Life Line, Beyond Blue, Teen Clinic, Headspace, RU Okay? or talk to your doctor. You will find contact details below.
There is no shame in asking for help.
Warning: this article deals with sensitive subject matter which may cause distress to some readers.
I lost a mate this week.
I gave him the two-fingered salute from the steering wheel on the morning of the day he killed himself. We often passed each other on the highways of southern New South Wales. Both busy, perhaps too busy.
“I must catch up with him,” I thought, “When the holiday’s come.”
Fifty-something, top job, a tribe of beautiful kids, sharp humour and insight, physically strong, a big laugh and smile – a fella that could wear maroon jeans comfortably, with the best collection of shirts this side of Brown Mountain.
He was someone you were always better for seeing.
My mate had strength I drew on, he had such confidence in me, backing that has pushed me forward. As I sit here tapping away a million little things he said or did to help me succeed float through my mind’s eye.
Thank you, mate.
But now he is dead. His life taken by his own hands. You had no other options mate?
We all crumble at times, but for that to lead to this, from someone so apparently strong-minded. What?
I am led to the sort of thinking I did as a kid trying to comprehend Mars, Jupiter, and Venus and stars light years away. It’s thinking that never finds an answer and only leads to more questions and unknowns.
What is clear and undeniable are the holes in the future his actions leave – for many people.
I’ve only known about his death for a handful of hours, I am expecting to feel angry soon, right now I am just very sad. And grateful for knowing my mate and what he gave me and my community.
He saw such potential in this place and was always pushing it to be better.
How can he not want to be here?
Perhaps my anger is coming now.
My mate was aware of his mental health. We both spoke of the need to drink less booze acknowledging it was not the best way to stimulate or quiet our minds. We talked about how good exercise made us feel, he even had a bike in his office ready for a lunchtime ride.
How is it that a mind so open and aware can come to this?
It hurts to imagine what state he must have been in and it’s shocking how devasting a split second can be.
In May this year, I went to a screening of ‘Suicide: The Ripple Effect’ in Merimbula.
It’s the story of Kevin Hines. In September 2000, Kevin leaped off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The moment he left the four-foot high railing, Kevin says he had instant regret and in the four seconds it took for him to hit the water below, he prayed for his life.
Kevin’s is a rare perspective, he now knows his friends and family would not have been better off without him.
Devastatingly we have lost my mates perspective forever.
As I get lost in my thinking I hear from others hurting today, aside from the sadness we all fell at losing a mate, we all seem to share that concern for ourselves and others we love.
“If people like my mate can’t make life work, I am in trouble,” seems to be the collective thought.
But when and how do you ask for help?
How about now?
This week I will ask for help.
I want to realise the potential my mate saw in me and this place. I am shattered my mate won’t be here to see it and share it.
Rest in peace my mate. My love and the love of everyone you touched is with your beautiful family.