Conversations about suicide - Emma's story

S1: March 3rd, 2013, I lost my eldest, 18, Andy, to suicide. It wasn't just randomly out of the blue, he was struggling probably for about 12 months. And I say "struggling" because he was a really sporty, athletic, funny kid who stopped being funny and stopped enjoying sports, and really struggled, really struggled with lots of things. Things like getting his license, just everyday things. He'd get angry, he'd get frustrated and angry about things. And unfortunately, we lost him.

S2: For you, in the immediate aftermath of his death, I'm wondering what kind of supports and help, and how that, kinda that really immediate crisis part of your journey went for you? 

S1: The coronial process was really good. They were really informative. And they also I connected me to a counsellor through The Jesuit Foundation. And she was really good. She was good for me to be able to say things that I would probably say in my head and I needed to hear them out outside, and have somebody say, "No, that's actually quite a normal reaction. That's quite normal. You're entitled to feel like that." So at the start, it was really about being in shock. And then, that probably lasted about a fortnight, 'cause there's lots of plans and things to do. And then, it goes really quiet. And of course, you have less family around and you have to think about going back to work. And I think that was probably the hardest one for me. It was when, yeah, everyone was going back to normal. Everyone, but me.

S2: Tough times.

S1: Yeah, that was definitely the toughest because it wasn't the normal anymore. And that whole shock has worn off, all the adrenaline that happens, has worn off, and you start to realise, "Oh, am I gonna feel like this forever?" It feels really... It feels numb. It felt better when I felt pain, and I felt sad, and I felt grief. But when I felt nothing, that was bad, that was horrible. I just remember I came home one day and I said to my partner, "I think I know what I need to do, I want to change my life." I really became in touch with my community. I moved to a smaller one, got involved in the school and the people. Found joy in it and that helped. That helped. It meant, instead of going from trying to fit back into my old life and feel nothing, to feeling, feeling and feeling good.

S2: Can you let us know what worked for you with friends and family? 

S1: That was really nice when someone would knock on the door and come in and say, "Hey, Zoe, what's happening?" It was really important to me that the friends we had still invited me to their kids' birthday parties because I think some of them were, "Oh, we should be okay," and I loved it. I loved going and seeing the kids. We have friends of ours who have a house full of teenagers and I loved going there. There were other things I thought about, too. I thought about my beliefs, what... What happens when somebody dies? [chuckle] That was huge for me, as well. I've never been brought up in any particular faith, but I needed desperately to have some faith and I needed to believe in something. I needed to have some sense from what had happened. And I got that from a combination of things, from learning about... So, aside from talking to other people about how they coped and what they did, from really looking within myself and asking myself lots of questions, and from being patient with myself, too. So yeah, that was one of things I definitely learnt: Patience, with myself, and everything else. And that allowed me to be good to myself too, by being patient. You can't fix it all now, it's not gonna go away all now, but it will eventually. It will start to get better.