CAIT­LYN WALKS FOR BEN

Sis­ters urge peo­ple to speak up and seek help if suf­fer­ing from men­tal health is­sues

Bayside and Northern Suburbs Star - - FRONT PAGE - Jacque­line Henry

CAIT­LYN Michels wants to raise aware­ness of how quickly de­pres­sion can turn fa­tal af­ter en­dur­ing two sui­cides in her fam­ily.

The Bracken Ridge mother will ‘Walk for Aware­ness’ on Oc­to­ber 8 af­ter los­ing her brother to sui­cide on July 29, 2013 and her fa­ther on Jan­uary 29, 2016.

“Even if one per­son read this and sought help, it would be worth it,” Ms Michels said.

“I thought it (the walk) would be cool so my sis­ter Jamie (Mar­quis) and I de­cided to do it in mem­ory of our brother and our dad, and all the other men and women who suf­fer with men­tal health is­sues.

“We want them to know that it is okay to speak up. You are al­lowed to have crappy days.

“But don’t let it eat you up. Speak to some­one. Don’t suf­fer in si­lence like our loved ones.

“There are so many peo­ple deal­ing with men­tal health con­di­tions and it af­fects every­one in the fam­ily.

“Af­ter los­ing my brother Ben it took me 18 months be­fore I could talk about it.

“Then we lost Dad ex­actly two and a half years later.

“Both deaths were re­ally un­ex­pected. I knew Ben had suf­fered de­pres­sion in the past but he had started a new busi­ness and seemed happy.

“His sui­cide came out of the blue.

“It was the same with my fa­ther. I knew he had al­ways strug­gled.

“He had been in the po­lice force and had post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der (PTSD).

“We all knew he had is­sues but he seemed fine at the time and his sui­cide was com­pletely un­ex­pected.

“Los­ing Ben was hard enough, but then los­ing Dad was just ab­so­lutely dev­as­tat­ing and some­thing we will never get over.”

Ms Michels said she knows there is no one thing you can say that will pre­vent some­one from com­mit­ting sui­cide but it is im­por­tant to talk to your fam­ily and friends.

“Look for changes in be­hav­iour like sleep­ing longer, not eat­ing and not leav­ing the house. If there are changes in some­one’s mood, ask them if they’re okay or if there is any­thing you can do to help.

“If any­one is feel­ing down, speak to some­one.

“There are so many sup­port ser­vices out there, Life­line or call or visit your lo­cal hos­pi­tal.

“They’ll do their best to help.

“When Ben was younger he tried to seek help but he didn’t get the help he needed.

“So when he was older and strug­gling he was re­luc­tant to try and ask for help again.”

Ms Michels said there was so much sigma around men­tal health.

“Every­one hates the word sui­cide and I hate it too but it has to be talked about so peo­ple can be aware and keep an eye on friends and fam­ily.

“I’m also not a fan of the phrase com­mit sui­cide – it’s not a crime. A lot of peo­ple do it to end their pain and suf­fer­ing but sui­cide doesn’t end the pain, it just passes it on to some­one else.”

Ms Michels hopes to raise $500 for the Men­tal Aware­ness Foun­da­tion by par­tic­i­pat­ing in the walk.

“Peo­ple can feel free to do­nate but what I re­ally want peo­ple to do is please talk to your loved ones about sui­cide, check they’re okay.”

To do­nate to Cait­lyn’s walk visit https://walk­foraware­ness2017.ev­ery­day­hero.com/au/Mar­qu­is­fam.

If you or some­one you know needs help you can phone: Life­line 13 11 14, Mensline 1300 78 99 78, Sui­cide Call Back Ser­vice 1300 659 467, Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800, Be­yond Blue 1300 22 4636 or Mates in Con­struc­tion 1300 642 111.

Sui­cide doesn’t end the pain, it just passes it on to some­one else.

— Cait­lyn Michels

PHOTO: JACQUE­LINE HENRY

Af­ter los­ing her brother and fa­ther to sui­cide, Cait­lyn Michels will Walk for Aware­ness on Oc­to­ber 8 in the hope to en­cour­age peo­ple to check on their loved ones and be aware how quickly and un­ex­pect­edly de­pres­sion can be­come fa­tal.

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