Our lives this year have been like the seasons; unpredictable and inescapable. There are hints we can shake off our layers gathered over winter and venture out with a sense of freedom that the warmer spring days offer, but beware spring is a fickle season and teases us. September 1 in the Southern Hemisphere is technically the start of spring but as soon as one is tempted to stow away the woollies Jack Frost and sleety snow return.
Our lives are like the seasons that change from dark and gloomy to the flourish of new growth seen in the abundance of blossoms and flowering bulbs to the inquisitive new-born calves along our fence line.
We choose to celebrate the gift of life. Earlier this year we lost my 39 year-old-stepson to suicide. His Dad and I knew that he had suffered from highs and lows throughout his life but not to the extent that he would take his own life. We have decided to be open about the circumstances of Matt’s death. This has encouraged others to share their stories with us. While there is much being done to raise awareness about depression and suicide; the numbers continue to climb and more families, friends and workmates are left numb with the loss and waste of another life.
It has been a difficult and sad time for us, but we choose to embrace life and the memory of Matt positively. Our faith and support of friends and neighbours have made the grief more bearable. But it never goes away. When I hear of another suicide, my heart goes out to their loved ones. Never be afraid to ask someone if they are OK and offer a listening ear if needed or practical help to ease their distress. Remember not everyone will accept your offer but sometimes you may be the right person at the right time.
For those left behind as my husband has found, it is sad and at times a frustrating process of dealing with the coroner’s court, police, funeral directors, solicitors and even fractured family relations. Five months later we are still trying to sort out the legalities while we grieve in our own ways.
Mental health is complex and many of us at some stage of our lives experience depression, anxiety, trauma and grief. For most of us, that dark season of our life ends and can be like a daffodil stretching towards the sunlight in spring with the promise of renewed hope. The dark clouds and icy tentacles of winter have been replaced in my heart and mind, reminding me how precious every single moment is.
For those still struggling we need to advocate for better services and more funding; combined with increased public awareness around suicide prevention. We also need to aim for a kinder and more caring world for all. If you are struggling there is help out there.
If you or someone you know needs help, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978 or the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.
You can also visit the following websites for useful resources and support.
The following website addresses the issue of understanding the available data and how to apply it to the various suicide prevention approaches and programs in this country https://www.lifeinmindaustralia.com.au/about-suicide/suicide-data
And here is an American website promoting a suicide prevention campaign during September.