I am 62 and have 2 children; Gil who is 41, and Tara who is 39. I also have 4 beautiful grandchildren aged between 2 and 7. My youngest grandchild, Claire (Tara’s daughter) was born on the anniversary of my husband, Don’s death. He has missed so much.
My story starts on February 23rd 2007, the day our world changed, when my husband Don passed away from self-inflicted injuries. I found him about 12.30am on the 21st February, unconscious in our backyard and called 000. Then I did the hardest thing I have ever had to do - call my son.
Gil called his sister Tara who lives on the Gold Coast. I felt for Tara being so far away from us and having to deal with the incident with her father all by herself. I couldn’t talk to her because reality had set in, I couldn’t talk to anyone.
Don was transferred to the Royal Melbourne Hospital by air ambulance. Everyone was so kind and helpful to us, but Don never regained consciousness and he passed away two days later.
With help from family, friends and counsellors, I was able to understand what had happened and not blame myself for not picking up on Dons mental state before he died.
I now believe men find it very hard to seek help for depression - they only see the stigma attached to mental health.
The night everything went wrong, Don was a different person. I couldn’t reach him, but never, ever would I have thought he would take his own life.
When l came home from Melbourne after Don died, I asked all my family and friends to remember Don as he was, and not for what he did to himself - because that wasn’t the Don we all knew and loved.
Yes, there is a stigma around suicide. It is very hard to talk about outside of family and close friends.
People sometimes ask me how my husband died and when I tell them that he took his own life, they apologise and change the subject, but if he had died from a heart attack they’d ask all sorts of questions.
When Lisa Cartledge, who lost her husband through suicide, asked me to join the B2B committee to let the elephant out of the room and #setthatbastardfree, I jumped at the chance.
Just by talking with Lisa and the committee I was able to open up and really talk about Don. It has helped me so much, I am now able to move forward and enjoy life, it is the best thing I ever did.
Thank you, Lisa, and everyone involved in the walk. I hope we can make a difference for many people with similar mental health issues as we have had to deal with.
Once again, thanks, Lisa.