As our grief eases, many of us wanted to do something to help others. We needed something positive to come from our loss.
What we’ve learnt can help make a difference to others.
Some ways we found to do that:
- Join ARBOR, Lifeline, Samaritans and volunteer our time to support others
- Share our experience with others when it feels OK to do so. This helps to shift the stigma about suicide and encourages others to share their experiences.
- Learn about services available to help others and share this
- Get involved in the communities our loved ones were involved with
- Learn more about the issues behind suicide: why are our Aboriginal people at such risk? Why are young Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex people at increased risk?
- Attend training in mental health awareness and suicide prevention
- Make a donation or bequest to support suicide prevention or another cause that’s important to us
- Write a story or a book, make a video, draw or paint your experiences
Our family has survived that darkest of times. We survived because we were loved and supported. We survived because our pain was heard and our loss acknowledged. No one tried to make it better. No one offered solutions or answers to those unanswerable questions we kept asking. No one told us they understood how we felt or that we would eventually get over it.
Friends and family would just sit with us each day and hold our hands and listen with their hearts as we wept silently and said nothing.
Somehow the chores got done, the dog got fed, the garden watered, the bills paid. I am not sure how or by who.
The space we were in, traumatised and grieving, was respected. Those around us may have been concerned, but they also believed we had the resources, the strength of character and the courage and resilience to survive.
They were right.
My sister gave me a photo of us together, stuffing our faces with chocolate cake when we were young. We both look hideous but I love this photo now.
It makes me smile every time I see it because it reminds me she was not always depressed and had a great sense of fun and joy. That’s who she really was. I don’t want her defined by her suicide.
Sue, South Fremantle
Seeing this bloke helped me feel stronger again. He didn’t say much really but I knew I wouldn’t shock him. Like when I was so mad at my daughter for what she did. He just sat there quietly. I couldn’t have told my wife. She was too cut up. Our daughter was our pride and joy.
I thought I’d never recover when my husband took his life. But in time, and with support, I have. It’s changed me. I’ve become more understanding of others. I know there is often far more to a person than we ever really know.
When people ask me how many children I have, I always tell them I lost my son. Otherwise it would feel as though I was denying he ever existed.
I felt abandoned by my friends at the church and the school when my son died. Nobody came near me or called. It made me question my faith. I thought they were Christians. I was hurt and disappointed.
At some point you have to get to the place where you know: you’ll just never know why.
Helen, Swan View
I went to the place where my son was buried for 18 months, on my way home from work. It comforted me and made him feel close.
Although I’m young, other people often ask me for help. Now I know what to say, but earlier, I felt overwhelmed. Because I’d lost someone close to suicide, I was seen as someone who knew all about it. I didn’t, but I have learnt a lot now.
I lost my sister when I was 8. My parents’ overprotection then felt comforting. At 14, when my Dad died, it felt overwhelming and suffocating. I felt like shouting “Get out of my space!”
If we are to really make a difference in reducing suicide and eliminating stigma we must work together and include those bereaved by suicide by listening with understanding and compassion, assist them in their time of need and learning from these experiences. No more must we close the door and leave well alone!
I have learnt many things since losing my son. I have learnt both how strong I am but also how vulnerable I can be. I have learnt that I am not alone in the world and that every breath, every heart beat and every footstep I take has been given to me. That I can choose what to do with these gifts is a powerful thing.
More than anything, I have learnt to always remember that Life is beautiful and wondrous and what makes it so is the love we have for each other.
Life is also sometimes very fragile. Don’t take it for granted, whether it is your own or someone else’s. It is far too precious.