“On January 10th this year, 2017, my mother called me to tell me she was coming over for a chat. Now, this was fairly unusual as my father had been sick, so usually I would go to visit them. When mum got to my house, she looked distraught, but was keeping herself together. I asked her what was happening... she proceeded to tell me that my father, who was my best friend no longer wanted to be with us and had taken his own life. This was the hardest thing I have ever had to hear. I honestly didn't know what I was feeling, I just went completely numb. My father had had a heart attack about 6 months before, but after his bypass surgery had many complications. He became too weak to walk properly on his own and was always afraid he would have another fall. He was unable to work and work had always been his life. He had gone from being such a sociable person to being unable to go out of the house for long periods of time because of his health. He was always such a loving man, up until the day he left us.
The signs of his being mentally unwell were there, 100%. But due to all of the other health problems he was facing, it was completely masked to us until it was too late. This is what motivated me to raise funds and awareness on behalf of Suicide Prevention Australia, because I don't ever want another family to feel the emptiness and helplessness that we have felt ever since.
I actually found the Sydney Half Marathon when I was looking for ways to raise funds for SPA. Not the other way around. I promised myself I would push as far as I could. No matter how much I struggled, and even if I didn't make it to the finish line, that I would go as far as I could, because that was the struggle my father had faced every day.
Everyone was so supportive. One of the girls in our team, who lives a town away from us did raffles and we put donation boxes around both towns to raise as much awareness and funds as possible. We want to ensure that suicide doesn't become the big elephant in the room. It does need to be spoken about and it does need to be addressed.
I’ve had people give their opinions on suicide to me. Which, you would assume that people wouldn't do to someone who has just lost their parent to suicide. But they do. I don't want suicide to be so misunderstood anymore. With eight people suiciding every day in Australia, it needs to be understood, rather than people turning their noses up at it.
The run itself was the highlight of my experience. As horrible and painful as it was, I learnt a lot about my own mental health, but also experienced the pain some people deal with every day - the struggle of trying to keep pushing on, but your mind telling you that you can't, that you should just give up. The immediate anxiety when seeing a hill up ahead and not even wanting to attempt it, but knowing you need to. Then once you're half way up, trying to convince yourself that if you could get this far, you could do the rest. But then, when I hopped off the course because I literally could not run any longer, learning to ask for help and saying that I couldn’t keep doing this on my own was so very hard. Luckily, whilst in the bus back to the finish line, I made a friend who came back onto the course with me to do the last three kilometres. Neither of us were in a fit state to run it, but we walked the rest of the way together. If that isn't the greatest metaphor for daily mental health struggles, I'm not sure what is.
I’d like to tell other people - please, don't hesitate to help raise awareness. I don't want anyone to ever feel the way my father did. We need to be that voice for those people who don't know how to speak up for themselves.
I’ll definitely be supporting suicide prevention as much as I can in the future, and I’d like to take
this opportunity to thank SPA for sharing my story in the hope that it might help others.”
You too can become an SPA Champion for Life like Kaitlin. Visit -https://www.suicidepreventionaust.org/projects/how-you-can-get-involved to see how you can get involved, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
#suicideprevention #community fundraising #championforlife