Jimi went to the park. . . and never came home
ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD Georgia McDowell pretends her big brother and best mate is away on holidays.
Her mother, Debra Brumby, turns to denial to deal with the excruciating pain that is too much to bear.
This mother and daughter have been coping in their own ways with the unthinkable reality of their past six months, since they lost their son and brother, 13-year-old Jimi McDowell, in the most shocking of circumstances.
Jimi had come home on February 28 and told his mum he had been suspended from school. After Ms Brumby told him off and stormed into her bedroom, Jimi went to a park close to their Morley home and took his own life. His mum says no one in his life had any clue the popular, sports-loving teenager who “had more friends than he knew what to do with” would resort to such drastic action.
Two hours after their last conversation, Ms Brumby heard from police that Jimi was in a critical condition in hospital.
“He had all these tubes and looked horrific,” she recalled. “The doctor took Jason (Jimi’s father) and I into a room and that’s when he told us that Jimi had had no circulation to the brain for an hour. At that moment we knew we had lost him, the machines were keeping him alive.”
Jimi’s life support was switched off two days later – two weeks before the 14th birthday he was looking forward to.
Still in shock, Ms Brumby said every time she acknowledged that Jimi was truly gone it was like a “lightning bolt” went through her body.
“My head knows it’s real but my heart keeps saying this isn’t possible, it can’t be real, how am I supposed to go on now,” she said choking back sobs. “(Georgia) is the reason. She’s the only reason I get up in the mornings. ”
Ms Brumby said she still had no idea why Jimi, who had not been bullied or shown any signs of depression, would want to take his own life. Her only guess was that he was upset for disappointing her and didn’t comprehend the finality of his actions.
“He was in a moment and in that little moment he made a choice that he couldn’t come back from . . . there was no build up to this, it was done and dusted in half and hour,” she said.
A few months before his own death, a good friend of Jimi’s had attempted suicide and Ms Brumby recalls their brief conversation, wishing now she had gone much deeper.
“I remember saying to him ‘Jimi, you wouldn’t do that would you’ and he goes ‘nah mum’. And I said ‘you know it would absolutely destroy me if you did’. That was the end of our conversation.”
Ms Brumby said she felt compelled to call for change in a bid to stop the “epidemic” of youth suicide and shatter the silence surrounding it, saying Premier Mark McGowan and the State Government needed to step up.
She said mental health needed to be part of the school curriculum and talked about openly in the classroom, while parents needed to have serious conversations with their children.
“We’ve just got to get through to these kids – it’s final and what you leave behind is a life sentence for your family,” she said.
Aching: Debra Brumby and her daughter, Georgia, with a picture of Jimi.