Conversations about suicide - Courtney's story

S1: So nearly three years ago, 2012, we lost my brother Dylan to suicide. He was 16 at the time, and my only sibling. So that was very sudden and really shocking. Like, it wasn't... We didn't know he was struggling. And you hear so many people say that, like you really don't know, I thought he was just a regular teenage boy. Never left his bloody room. Didn't stop playing video games.

S2: It was very sudden for you, but I'm wondering as you look back, the things that might have been going on at the time.

S1: We didn't know that we needed to be looking out. I mean, he was a pretty emotional kid. He was very close to Mum. Like, he was very open about everything, so yeah, that was kinda hard to come to terms with... And yeah, that was the biggest shock. It wasn't normal. We thought everything was fine.

S2: So I'm wondering how that kind of evolved, then, for you in dealing with the shock, working through grief stages, and how you were with your mum along that way? 

S1: Yeah, she... I think she worried a lot more about me and, in turn, I was worried about her. So it was kinda just back and forth all of the time. Both of us trying to be brave for the other, which in hindsight wasn't really helping anyone. So yeah, when we finally got to a point, we were quite open about it. Literally just one night sort of opened the flood gates. It was so much better. Just, like it's okay to talk about it, 'cause I was worried about bringing him up, would that upset her? Seeing photos would upset her? It was really hard, so yeah, that was an odd dynamic for us for quite a while.

S2: Well, I guess you've told me you also did some research for yourself. That really helped? 

S1: Yeah, 'cause it's incredibly confronting to walk into a GP and be like, "I'm feeling these things that aren't quite normal." So, yeah. Like the first step for me was going online, just researching stuff online. Educating myself to try and comprehend what was happening.

S1: Our family is a lot closer now, and after I guess the dust had settled, we... My mom and I... Like I said earlier, once we started talking openly about it, it go so much easier and then for us, yeah I spent a lot of time finding out how I could help other people. If I can talk openly about it, maybe one other person will start to feel... I found out a lot... Once you kinda make the first step, everyone... It's like a floodgate opens. People are like, "Oh, it's okay to talk about it." Like, "I'm not gonna break down in tears. Like, I would feel much better if you came to me and said something."

S1: That's what I want. That's why I do this. That's why I talk openly, 'cause it should just be a normal conversation. It shouldn't be something you need to keep to yourself. I was quite lucky to have a really great group of friends who just listened. I think that was the biggest thing. If I needed to be alone, I said I needed to be alone. If I wanted to talk, they were there. I found a lot of the time just sending a text message to them was great. Like, it helped me understand what I was going through, and they had a better idea of where I was at and typing it out or writing it out was so much better for me. It helped me a lot and it was a little bit less confronting for them, as well, 'cause they had a lot of time to kinda sit down and dissect it and maybe understand a little bit better what I was going through and how they could help. So, yeah.

S2: From your experience of having your brother's suicide, I'm wondering what things you might say to somebody who's had that kind of experience? 

S1: Yeah, be kind to yourself. That's the biggest thing. You're gonna feel a thousand emotions at a time, and that's okay. You can feel... They're not gonna be angry at you from the grave for being happy. Like, it's the furthest thing from their mind, I can assure you. You need to look after yourself.