Tuesday, 10 September 2013

I Miss You Michelle - World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. 

Suicide is a very difficult topic to talk about, and sadly something that has touched my life too many times. I have lost teachers, friends, acquaintances and colleagues to suicide. I have attempted suicide. I have had suicidal thoughts as most recently as a month ago. This post is to raise awareness. If you think you might be triggered please do not read. There is loads of support out there, I have found Mind Charity and their Elefriends chat room very helpful.  

I have blogged on my personal blog too today. 

My darling Michelle

I am in grade 4 you have just started grade 3, you are new. You are playing on the monkey bars on your own with your soft toys. The teasing has started. I am asked to befriend you. You are blonde, petite and pretty. It's no effort to be your friend. I am only sad that we can't be in the same class.

Our friendship develops, not always close but we always look out for one another. I take your photo on school camp. You are an outsider, like me. There are secrets in your head and heart that I will never discover. I move to high school and the following year you join me, we are still friends. I move to college and you join me there.

One day we walk through the bush together to get our bus. Its the last day of college before half term. You confide how hard you are finding the school work, how lonely you feel, how much pressure you are under to do well. I listen. I reassure you that college is hard, but that you are smart and resourceful and you will get through it.

I worry, I am not sure what I should have done, because you did seem really low, but you didn't really show signs that there was anything wrong. You didn't cry. You did reach out for a hug but that didn't seem unusual.

Half term is over and I return to college. I go to maths class with Mr Elliott, who I love so much. He is so down to earth and encouraging. P and M, my good friends, are in tears. I ask what's wrong. "Oh shit" they say to one another. "She doesn't know". Michelle. You are dead.

You are dead. Mr Elliott rings the school counselling team and sends the three of us to her immediately, excusing us for the rest of the day. The counsellors explain that you appear to have shot yourself with a rifle.

I feel punched to the stomach. P, M and I leave the college and walk. I feel the need to go to church and light a candle. They are locked. We cry. We walk more. I go into a record shop and buy an album. Joe Jackson's Blaze of Glory. Its impregnated in my mind. Even now when I want to think of you, I play a song from it.

Your funeral is closed. No friends allowed. There is no burial plot. There's nowhere to mourn you.

Your inquest is heard and the details are in the paper. You bought a rifle and ammunition at a gun shop. You were 15. It would take many more years for gun laws in Tasmania to be tightened. A man would have to go on a rampage and conduct a massacre for it to happen.

You were under immense pressure to do well at school. You were experimenting with life, parties, maybe drugs.  There were no other reasons given but it was revealed you had attempted suicide previously. Your parents were criticised for not trying harder to get help. But they missed it too.

I know now it wasn't my fault. I know I did everything I could. I was only a kid myself just a year older and didn't know the signs. You didn't really show the signs. Not to me.

And I miss you Michelle. Still Every day.


"You better believe it
You know my dream's still alive
You can love it or leave it
But I'm never gonna be 35"

19 Forever - Joe Jackson


  1. No one has commented? I'm not surprised. There are so many things to say and never the right words with which to say them...

    Which is sad, because to talk about these feelings is to gain perspective and lack of perspective is what often turns thoughts into fateful deeds. That and the hateful presence of guns, which can turn an impulse into a destiny.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings and your memories of Michelle. I will remember Andrew Strachan. I never knew why he did what he did; too late we find out we are never close enough to someone to whom we feel close to actually be able to help. The least we can do now is to remember them...

  2. Oh Kylie, such a powerful post and so important too. I have never known anyone take their own life but I can so easily see how we could all arrive at that conclusion without support and help. Thank you for posting. H

  3. Wow. I'm speechless. Such a sad post. Beautifully written!

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