MOTHER’S LOVE: Michaelle Luijs with her son Kevin in Sydney before he died. Michaelle is a facilitator of the Gladstone branch of Survivors of Suicide Bereavement Support Association.
MOTHER’S LOVE: Michaelle Luijs with her son Kevin in Sydney before he died. Michaelle is a facilitator of the Gladstone branch of Survivors of Suicide Bereavement Support Association. Contributed

Bereaved from suicide have a place to turn to for support

Rotary program to educate on suicide

Michaelle Luijs's story: a first person account

TALKING about the death of her son is hard for mother Michaelle Luijs but she believes if she talks about it, it will help others.

"(It's treated) as a taboo subject," she said.

"It's got to be talked about openly so we can actually do something about it."

People need to be educated on depression and what signs to look out for.

Ms Luijs' son Kevin suffered from depression, and next month will mark four years since he died at 22 years old.

She is the facilitator of the Gladstone branch of Survivors of Suicide Bereavement Support Association.

"It's just for people that have been through the same," Ms Luijs said.

"The group is there to talk about it and not feel guilty.

"You're all going through the same emotions."

Ms Luijs says too many people commit suicide and Gladstone is not exempt.

"It (suicide) is a big problem in Gladstone because there are a lot of people that work away from their families," she said.

Ms Luijs said support was essential, to help stop suicides.

"People need to be educated on depression and what signs to look out for," she said.

"Too many young people between 12 and 25 suffer from depression. This needs to be detected in the early stages."

The Port Curtis Rotary Club's Project We Care is one way of educating people on what to do if they think someone is suicidal.

"Most times depression goes undetected by peers because those suffering hide it so well," Ms Luijs said.

"I'm now depressed because my son passed away. I'm on medication now."

"Everyone who knew and loved Kevin are now facing a battle to get some normality back into their lives."

* SOSBSA Michaelle - 0413 121 512

Rotary program to educate on suicide

A COMMUNITY group is taking on the difficult subject of suicide in a bid to stop more deaths.

The Port Curtis Rotary Club is launching its Project We Care initiative, which organiser John Whitten says aims to educate.

"I believe it should be open, and spoken about, because it's not only Gladstone; it's an Australia-wide problem," he said.

Saying 'I want to kill myself' is not a normal thing

Mr Whitten has personally been affected by suicide but he says that's not the only reason he is doing this.

"If we can save one life with what we're doing, then it makes it worthwhile," he said.

Mr Whitten says suicide happens more than we may think.

"I would suggest the suicide rate in Australia is a lot higher than people killed in car accidents," he said.

"It's through all age groups. The 15-25 is a high-incident group; so is the over 60s. Suicide does not pick an age. It does not pick an income level."

The club is taking a two-fold approach: educating school children in preventative ways and teaching adults how to deal with the warning signs.

"Saying 'I want to kill myself' is not a normal thing," he said.

Michaelle Luijs's story: a first person account

TOO many people die each year of suicide, mostly due to the fact that there is not enough follow up support.

Depression does not get recognised as an illness but as a weakness. People are afraid to speak up or seek help because of this label they carry.

Speaking up will save lives.

Years ago breast cancer and prostate cancer were the taboo subjects, now look at how many lives are saved because of the research and the fact it gets openly spoken about.

Now the time has come to speak openly about metal illnesses and depression.

People need to be educated on depression and what signs to look out for.

Too many young people, between 12-25 suffer from depression.

This needs to be detected in the early stages.

So when a child is in the transition from primary school to high school and need to sit a curriculum test, there should be a simple mental health test included. That is early detection.

Most times depression goes undetected by peers because those suffering hide it so well.

They suffer in silence because there isn't enough education on how to deal with depression.

Being able to talk without being criticised, getting the right support without being turned away, getting the correct follow up care.

I had no understanding of depression before my son Kevin died of suicide in May 2009, he was 22.

I knew when he was 18 he suffered depression and we got help for him.

Over the years, I thought that he had improved and had it under control, but I didn't know what was going on in his head, I was not him and I'm not a doctor, how was I supposed to know and as I said, they hide it so well.

Kevin did mention to someone that he was suicidal, but that got brushed off, I found this out when it was too late.

So if ever someone says that to you, take it serious, tell a responsible person, that is a sign, a cry for help, this is our duty of care.

The week of Kevin's death he saw three different doctors in the same practice.

He kept on saying his medication wasn't working, so each time a different medication was prescribed.

A doctor should know that is takes some days before any results can be felt.

At this point Kevin should have been hospitalised, not left to battle on....by the end of that week, Kevin lost his battle and died of suicide.

So today, here I am, a grieving mother, a survivor of suicide.

Not only me but everyone who knew and loved Kevin are now facing a battle to get some normality back into their lives and keep going.

Without the ongoing support I receive from my wonderful partner and my doctor, I would have joined my son.