Jimi went to the park. . . and never came home

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - KATE CAMPBELL Pic­ture: Justin Ben­son-Cooper

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.

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