A personal note
I write this as I fly to Brisbane to attend a memorial service for an old work colleague and a friend. He was a gun salesman, always top of the table at the end of each month, often achieved too easily through the huge network he had of clients and contemporaries who respected him. He was a drum and bass lover, whether it was in the clubs or at a summer festival. He was a father to a young girl who he adored and I hope she never doubts it for a second. He loved the beach, his mates, a good yarn on the phone and would flirt up a storm whenever the opportunity allowed it – which seemed to be always. Unfortunately last week he made a decision that has left his family and friends shocked and devastated.
So many thoughts have crossed my mind in the last few days. I’ve tried a few different things to help cope with the news including donating to Beyond Blue and a local Headspace; bad jokes; eating an entire pizza; crying; vodka; talking to friends; not talking to anyone and now writing this. I’m still not sure I’ll actually post it except for the fact that the point I want to make will be missed if I don’t.
There are two things I’ve heard many times in the past few days. Firstly, “I had no idea/he seemed like the least likely person to suffer from depression”. His mother is struggling for answers and we’re all carrying the guilt that we didn’t see a change in his mood or behaviour. Secondly, my wonderful friends have been comforting me by saying there was nothing we could have done. While I understand and (so very much) appreciate the sentiment (and context), I can’t believe it’s true.
There’s something we can do but we all need to do it. We need to be able to speak about depression and mental health without stigma, judgement or hesitation. We need to check in with those we know are struggling, even when we think they are coping.
When John Brogden was on the 7PM Project recently I think I heard them say that suicide is the leading cause of death amongst young people. If it were a form of cancer we’d be wearing ribbons and eating coloured Tim Tams. If it were a blackspot on a road we’d go to the government in outrage. We need to create a culture where it’s ok to talk about how we’re doing and we need to do that every day. If we don’t know then there is nothing we can do. So let’s stop that.