I found out today that a well respected, popular and active part of our local autism community took their own life over the weekend.
I didn’t know this person personally but we were mutual members of several local autism facebook groups and I had attended a few school meetings with them in attendance. I always respected their views on autism and their passion for advocacy and for taking these issues up with politicians and others who matter.
This person was not afraid to go to the media when our local ASPECT school was asked to leave their premises of many years and had nowhere else to go. They were willing and able to organise other parents to challenge the status quo and the result was the offer of land upon which to build a new permanent school for ASPECT in the Hunter.
This person was a passionate advocate for increasing autism funding and finding new ways to support our kids and spreading awareness and acceptance. They were a source of information, support and understanding and would often share a wide range of articles they sourced from all over the internet.
They had a keen mind and regularly dissected quite lengthy and complex policy statements and submissions into plain English for the rest of us to digest. They always had the time to provide words of wisdom and support for others beginning on this journey and never judged others for their views or beliefs.
To say I am shocked, saddened and confused at their passing doesn’t come close to describing how I feel right now. This might sound odd as I did not really know them in person but they were an important member of our community and I greatly respected their contribution to spreading awareness both within and without the autism community.
This is why it is such an unexpected tragedy and why it cuts so deep. This person looked out for so many others while suffering silently themselves. As someone remarked on one of the many forums paying their respects, “if this person can’t do it, who can?”. That echoed my very first thought when I first heard the news.
It is a tragic reminder that carers need to be cared for as much as those they are caring for.
All parents and carers of children with special needs, need and deserve, respite from their responsibilities from time to time. They need support and understanding. They deserve respect and assistance.
Tragedies like this shouldn’t have to be. A family should not be without a parent today. A person should not feel that the best or only way forward is to remove themselves from this world.
This may be simplistic but it’s what I believe.
For what it’s worth I tie myself to this life with my belief in my necessity to go on for the sake of my kids and my family. Some days can be tough, really tough. I have suffered depression in the past and it’s no secret that it’s never far from the surface.
Thankfully I have never experienced the utter despair and pain that lead people down the path to contemplate suicide. And I hope to never feel that way.
Tonight, my heart hurts for this person’s family and for everyone else affected by suicide. My heart also hurts for all those carers out there suffering in silence.
Please look out for others, but most importantly, please look after yourself.
If you think you may be suffering from depression talk to someone – a friend, a colleague, a family member, your doctor or a neighbour. Alternatively you can also contact one of the following helplines – BeyondBlue or Lifeline or seek further information from the Black Dog Institute or the federal government’s Mental Health & Wellbeing website.
No one should have to suffer in silence.
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So sorry to hear of this tragedy. What you say is so true about caring for the carers.
It is a tragedy Deb. What really worries me is how many others are out there suffering in silence believing there is no hope in sight. We all know there are limited services to help our kids, let alone services to help the carers. All we can do is try to be there for each other and continue to spread the word…
I’m so sorry 🙁
Thanks Marita. It’s just so sad and such a senseless loss. But it is also an important reminder for us to closely look at how we are doing ourselves and to take the time to seek help and assistance when we need it. Not the easiest thing to do but oh so important…
Oh Kirsty. That’s just sad and chilling beyond words. Chilling because just like you said “if this person can’t do it who can?”.. this could be any one of us caring for a child or children with special needs. And I know so many parents who are in a similar boat as us who also suffer from depression and take meds for it. I am not on meds at this point but there are days where I am close to getting them prescribed. The government definately needs to review how the tackle this part of the community… not only do they need to think about the children, but they need to provide help readily for the carers! We need therapy provided for ourselves too!!! They need a mental health package that goes hand in hand with Autism and special needs packages that are available to families by the government. Even siblings should have access to these things too.
Thanks for sharing this remarkable persons story. May they rest in peace. Big hugs Kirsty x
Yeran, you are so right. There needs to be more funding for mental health for families caring for people with special needs, not to mention increased funding to provide respite as well (woefully underfunded and complicated and stressful for families to even consider up our way). But, in the meantime, we can at least check in on each other, talk out our worries and concerns and try to support each other in whatever way we can. I know that it helps me to realise that i’m not the only one facing these challenges but we do need more tangible support to try and prevent any more loss of life due to the stress and strain of being a carer. Thanks so much for your words and for sharing this post on facebook – very much appreciated!
Oh Kirsty I’m sorry, that is shattering 🙁
Thanks Kate.The funeral was today and I feel bad as I couldn’t go but it was no place to take Gilbert.
All we can do is learn from this and ensure we take care of ourselves as well as those we are caring for. And we can’t take anyone’s mental health for granted, no matter how that person may seem to be coping to the casual observer. Easier said than done, but very, very necessary…
I’m so sorry to hear this 🙁
Thanks Katie. It was a terrible loss, so unneccessary, unexpected and tragic. May they rest in peace.
What devastating news, I’m sorry for your loss xx
I am so sorry to hear of your loss and that of the community this person leaves behind.
We forget the carers in so many aspects of modern health care. There is such a push to manage everything in the community with limited funding which means that often it’s the carers and family that pick up the slack tirelessly, thanklessly and quietly.
Sometimes it is the doers who do because of the pain of stopping. Busyness is a shield against feeling what is going on. This is what I am learning now that I am not busy. We can never judge how another is really travelling..nor can we control any one else. These are very hard life lessons which I too find challenging. As my husband knows from his volunteer work at Lifeline, sometimes a person just needs to offload to another who does not know them. No judgment there at all. Lifeline: 13 11 14.
Thanks for sharing this painful and real story today. Denyse #lifethisweek
To learn of somebody’s death is always sad; but to learn that it was by their own hand is even more haunting. We have experienced that loss a few times now and it never gets any easier and you always wonder if there was something you could have said or done x