Are you struggling with trauma or know someone who is?
In this episode, Loren Roberts speaks with author Christine Howard about her book "Hoping with Suicide, Signs We Missed and Strategies to Use in the Aftermath." Christine shares her experience dealing with the loss of her child to suicide, and how she copes with the pain and grief that comes with it. She discusses the "what ifs" that often plague parents who have lost a child, but emphasizes the importance of accepting that it was their child's choice.
The episode is an eye-opening and inspiring conversation about a serious topic.
You will learn in this episode!
[00:01:19] Losing a child to suicide.
[00:04:15] Celebrating milestones after loss.
[00:09:29] Purpose in life.
[00:13:34] Writing a book for healing.
[00:15:42] Writing through tears.
[00:19:24] Motherhood and self-worth.
[00:23:09] Dealing with grief.
[00:27:16] Coping with loss and pain.
[00:30:25] Losing a loved one.
[00:35:08] Suicide and its aftermath.
[00:38:35] Suicide prevention awareness campaign.
[00:41:07] Attempted suicide and coping.
[00:45:30] Coping with loss and trauma.
Learn More about Lorene:
Be part of our growing Community!
Check our Website:
If you want more content like this and to help support this podcast, you can Buy Me a Coffee by clicking the link below:
Lovin' this episode? leave us a rating or review on iTunes, for us to create and inspire more women around the world! Thank you
Welcome, welcome and thank you for tuning in to Love, Light, Inspire the podcast where we speak to amazing inspirational women on a variety of different topics all the time. I'm Loreen Roberts, your host, and I help people getting started in business, also going through trauma. I help people who just have issues that they want to deal with. Now today we're going to be speaking to Christine Howard and Christine is the author of Hoping with Suicide, Signs We Missed and Strategies to Use in the Aftermath. Quite a serious topic. Christine not only wrote the book, but she also writes blogs and you can get her on HopingWithSuicide.com.au. So this is an interview which is really eye-opening, inspiring, just how a mother deals with losing a child and losing a child to suicide. So we're going to hear from Christine. Hello Christine, lovely to see you. Hello Loreen. We're going to talk about something today that I've never experienced, which is suicide and loss of a child. I cannot imagine the pain and the grief that you must have gone through at the time and you still must always feel that loss within. Yes. You just, you can't be a mum and not feel that loss. Well, I think I've accepted now that it's just going to be part of me for the rest of my life. Yeah, there's an emptiness in my heart where Kelly was. Yep. There'd also be a lot of what ifs too, wouldn't there? Oh, definitely. Oh yeah, you ask yourself, what if I'd add infinitum? And you can dig yourself a very big hole following the what ifs and there comes a time where you've got to say enough, that's it. It wasn't meant to be. Yeah, that's it was her choice. Yes, it was. It was her life that that's how she decided she wanted it to go. That's right. And for those of us left behind, it's hard to understand. But for her, that was a decision that she made and it was her life to live. She was an adult. And one thing that I was actually quite frantic to find out was the coroner's report because I wanted to know that she was sober and drug free and of sound mind to the best of her ability when she made that decision. Because I think it would have been really hard to live with if she'd suicided being under the influence of something. Yeah. But she was. I mean, they didn't want to give me the coroner's report. All they would tell me was that she died by hanging. And as I said to the guy on the phone, I said, well, Brian, Brian, Freddie could have told you that. We knew that. I just need to know. Anyway, they said, oh no, it's not policy and it's not protocol and all this sort of thing. And I ended up virtually screaming down the phone at them and gave up. And then a week later, I got this registered mail with the coroner's report. Does that work? I don't know. But obviously something that I screamed at him made an impact and we got the report and she was clear. All clear. So she was, it was a very rational decision. It was a choice she made, clearly. And that made it, in some respects, that made it a little bit easier to accept. I remember the morning after she died, hearing cars driving down the street. And I said, don't they know that my world's just ended? How can they just go about life as if nothing's happened? But of course, that was me in my little world and it was a very little world at that time. Oh yeah. It would have been a very painful world at that time. You know, as time goes on, you get a lot better at handling it. How old was she, Chris? 20. She was 20? Yep. She died on the 4th of August and she would have turned 21 on the 11th of November. So we had a 21st birthday party. Oh, beautiful. So we invited all our friends. So we had sparklers and candles and glitter. And it was great because she was the first death in amongst her circle of friends. And none of them had to deal with anything like that before. Not that any of us had really, but for the, all these 20 year olds, it was utterly devastating and they didn't know how to handle it. They didn't know that they could talk about it. It was just, I guess, too mind blowing to do anything about. So I mean, they'd come to her funeral, but they were very reticent to say anything. Four months later when we had her, three months later when we had her 21st, it was so gratifying to see, we had a decking of the house we were living in then. And there were groups of girls sitting around telling Kelly stories. And it was just wonderful because the healing had begun for them. I mean, we'd had that healing. We'd talked and talked and any opportunity to talk about Kelly, we took it because it was part of healing. But for the young ones, they didn't understand that until 21st. People at work looked at me like I was a bit off because my daughter came and picked me up and we went shopping for balloons and streamers and things, one lunchtime for the party. And what was the alternative to not have one and sit at home and cry and yeah, if Kelly had been alive, we would have had a 21st. So we had one anyway. I've spoken to Keriel DeRuccio in one previous podcast and she lost her son probably 10 years ago now, it might be nine years ago, 10 years ago, something like that. And she went on to become a medium because that's how she, to speak to him again and to understand what happened. And she, I think every year they have a birthday party for him and every year his friends come to his birthday party. Yeah, we did that for the first few years. Always had a birthday party for Kelly. I always raised a glass for Kelly at Christmas, but now the family's fragmented a bit so we don't do that. But I do it with my son. Yeah. But my daughter's removed herself from the family. Yeah. Such, well from my husband and I anyway. Yeah, I think it's important to celebrate the milestones. I don't know whether it's for her or for me, but whatever, it's important. And in the beginning we needed it. We really needed that. My cousin who lost his son as a 17-year-old every Christmas, they always go to the cemetery. They open their presents on his grave. Yep. And here am I going to cry? Actually on the 21st, we ended up going out to the cemetery because there was no headstone or anything on there yet. And I remember my five-year-old grandson was standing, he was four. He stood on the grave because someone said to him, wish Kelly happy birthday. He stood on the grave and he looked to the sky and he yelled at the top of his voice, happy birthday, Kel. And that was heartbreaking because she'd been his good mate through glitter and stuff around her grave and that. But I mean, I hardly go to the grave anymore because I know she's not there. Yeah. In the early years, I clung to that. I went to the cemetery very regularly, every week, sometimes three, four times a week. And then that gradually got down to once a week. And then just gradually petered out because I knew she wasn't there anymore. Yeah. And you know, she was in my heart and that's it, really. Yep. And you know, you can talk to her now and she can probably hear you now. Oh, and I do talk to her often. I mean, I don't have long conversations. I say, come on, Kel, just do something about this. Her birthday was on the 11th of November. So it's amazing how often on your watch or your phone, you'll look at it and it'll say 11-11. And we say, it's not every day, but it's very often. And friends tell me the same thing, that they say hi to Kel when they see the 11-11. Oh, it's a very prominent date, that one, isn't it? Oh, it is. It's remembrance day. Yeah. She wasn't born at 11-11. She was born an hour later. 12-11. I was not thinking about remembrance and my minute silence at all. You wouldn't have been at that stage, just getting his baby out. So what does it take to get over that? Time, I think. As time goes on, I've found there comes more acceptance. In the early years, I fought against it. Didn't want it to be true. It was so hard to accept. But as time gone by, I've sort of started looking at it in a different way. And I've started saying, well, okay, she was 20, but she wasn't destined for old age. I'd like to think that she was sent here for a purpose. And I had to accept that it was her choice and that probably nothing I would have done or could have done would have changed her mind. What do you think her purpose was for being on this earth? To teach those of us around her compassion. And I think to learn how to look at things differently. She taught us how to look at things differently. Because we tend, until Kelly died, you just go along and you do the whatever because that's what you do. And there probably isn't a great deal of purpose to your life. You go through the motions a lot of time. Go to work, you go to work, you have a shower, and then you have your breakfast. Get ready for work and you drive and you find a car park and all that sort of stuff. And it's just going through the motions a lot of time, unless you've got something specific to be focused on. Like Christmas, we're all totally different at Christmas in the lead up to Christmas, because we're all focused on what we're going to have to eat, who's going to cook this, who's going to bring that, what presents will I buy for this person and so on. And life is a bit different at that time of the year. We're more friendly. We think about other people, but then it peters away and we get back into the same. And I think losing Kelly taught me that you can't take life for granted. You've got to make the most of the people that are around you. That's what I wrote my blog on this week was, you know, don't forget the people that are around you because they're important. And I remember, it must have been a year or so after Kelly died, my niece died from a medical episode. And I remember vividly at one stage, her younger sister yelling at her mother, other children too. So I had that to pull me up to make me realise that, you know, you can't just focus on the one that's gone. Life goes on. That's what the car sounds were telling me the morning after she died. Life does go on. It just took us a while to get back into the stream of life again. And I can face most things now without getting weepy. I'll get weepy sometimes out of the blue, but for the most part now, because I'm in with 22 years on, but probably for the first 10 years, I couldn't talk too much about her without shedding a tear. I hear you. And then I couldn't talk about my dad after he passed away for probably 10 years. Yeah. Because otherwise I was just going to bore my eyes out. Yeah. And people look at you a bit strange. Yeah. I was probably six or eight before I could even mention him to someone without crying. But then I couldn't talk about him for probably 10, because I was just so devastated. I could talk about it, but I would cry when I talked about her. But then it got easier, I guess, practice. And then you start thinking about the feelings of other people. Oh, I don't want to be that woman that's forever crying about her daughter that's gone. So we learnt to get on with life, to spare other people around us. It gets a bit more and someone's weepy and carrying on all the time. And honestly don't think that's what Kelly would have wanted. I mean, you can say all sorts of things. Oh, she wouldn't have wanted this. She wouldn't want that. But I honestly don't believe that she would have wanted that for us. I mean, she loved her family and family was very important to her. And I think she would be devastated to think that she caused so much hurt and upset when she died. But I also think that her pain was obviously so great that she had felt that there was no other way to go. So she'd been abused as a child. And she said to me as a, you know, late teens, or, you know, probably a year or so before she died, that she said there was not a day went by that she didn't think about it. So her pain was great. And she couldn't bear it anymore. And I mean, throwing yourself on the coffin and wailing doesn't bring her back. So learn to get on with life and do things. You know, there's things that I've done since Kelly died that I'm sure that Kelly would have been delighted and would have loved to have joined with me if she'd still been alive. So I sort of worked out early on in the first year or so that I needed for me to do something to help others, which is why I wrote the book. Because I felt that by writing the book, I helped one family not have to go through the pain that we went through, then it was all worthwhile. And then I started a weekly blog, just a short blog, once a week, and things that happened that you can relate back to Kelly and, you know, like the first birthday, the first Christmas, the first Mother's Day, the first Father's Day, your first birthday without her, your children's birthdays without her. And all that just went on and on. The first, for the first year, are terrible. They're the pits, absolute pits. But in amongst all of that, I decided that I had to write a book. I mean, I've talked for years and years about a book, about writing a book. So I did. And I have had an email from someone who I don't know, who thanked me very much for helping her, the blog, I've got comments on there from people saying thank you. So that's my purpose in life now. Look, I wrote my book for exactly the same reason, to try and help someone else who'd gone through narcissistic abuse to actually understand what happened to them. Because sometimes you don't and sometimes finding the resource that can give you the answers is really hard. I understand exactly. And at the time, I didn't realise how cathartic it was for me. And I didn't even because I was never doing it for me. I was doing it for everyone else. Yeah, but it was it's very cathartic writing it. I mean, I would write a chapter or so or two, and then I'd have to walk away and leave it. And then and let that percolate for a little while and then I could get back to writing more. But yes, cathartic. I remember I started it. I'd been in Melbourne and I had my computer with me. And I was going to catch a train home and just missed a train. So I had to wait another hour for the next train to Geelong. So I went to the pub across the road and I got a glass of wine. And I sat down and I thought, what am I going to do for an hour? Well, maybe I should start my book. So I started, I opened the computer and I started in the pub. And then I got up and I moved to the station and got on the train and I got the computer out again. I cried all the way home to Geelong while I typed. And you know what, no one, no one came near me. And I thought, what sort of society do we have when a woman is obviously distressed? I mean, it was the real it was being cathartic, I guess, the crying. Yeah. But someone was obviously distressed and there were people sitting across from me and no one leaned over and said, are you okay? No one. You know, that is really quite devastating in a way, because if you had been suicidal, you needed someone to say, are you okay? Exactly. And I wasn't, but it was just, once I started writing, the tears came with it. And the more I wrote, the more I cried. I wasn't sobbing. It was tears were just streaming and people had to have seen it. Yeah. She's so close in a train. It's not. Yeah. And you don't have to hanky out, you know, wiping your face down. I just sort of, because I wanted to keep going. I started and I really was on a roll and I wanted to keep going, but I just couldn't stop crying. It was awful. But I got a lot done. I made a start and that broke the ice and I was able to keep writing from then on. But I just thought how sad it was. That nobody would. Do you think I mean, how long ago was that? That's how long ago to write your book? Probably about 15 years ago, 10 years ago, 10 to 15 years ago. So that was before the R U OK campaign that came out. Yeah. Do you think that would be the same today because people are much more aware of mental health today than what they were 15 years ago? I hope not. I hope that people would say, oh, there's no date in here. So I don't know what date I've actually published it. I'd like to think that no, I'd like to think that people would say anyway, because I think in some respects, the R U OK thing has given people permission to ask. Yeah. But I've got a section in my book of what to say and what not to say. The biggest thing I got out of all that is that, you know, and we say it without thinking, don't tell me that you're whatever, because that gives them permission not to tell you. It does do. Yeah. Yes. I won't tell you. Yeah. You said not to tell me. Don't tell me. I don't want to know, but you do. But so there's a whole section in the book about what to say and what not to say and don't promise secrecy. So if you tell me that you're thinking of killing yourself, but don't tell anyone, I shouldn't agree to not tell anyone because I need to help you get help. And I need to tell you that I need to help you get help. Because I guess too, there's a certain amount of shame in some respects for people to say, I want to kill myself. I mean, I've gone through stages myself in the last 10 years where I've thought, well, everyone would be better off without me. But then I keep coming back to, well, no, they wouldn't. Not that I'm that important, but I'm a part of a family and that's what's behind. We'll suffer to a certain extent. Oh, look, I remember before my marriage ended, you know, talking about narcissism, you know, I honestly believe that everybody would be so much better off if they didn't have to deal with me and my stupidity and my, all my shortcomings, because I believe them all to be true that I've been told. Yeah. And I honestly believe that everyone would have been so much better off. And it wasn't until after my marriage end that I realized that, hold on, I was actually the kingpin that held everything together and everything would have absolutely imploded, exploded and gone, just fallen apart if I hadn't been there. I didn't understand who I was and what my power was in the family. And yeah, well, I didn't understand my whole role. No. And I think too, as mothers, we do have a fairly powerful role. Oh, absolutely. I was taught as a little girl from an early age, not to brag, not to scot and you know, you're getting too big for your boots and all that sort of stuff. And that's the Aussie bit to the tall poppy stuff. Yeah. And you sort of think, well, really am I worth anything? Oh, I thought I would have been doing my family a favor. If I had have been strong enough that I could have got rid of myself, everyone would have been so much better off. Oh, my goodness. I know it's and I'm not being too big for my boots to say that I would have been missed. I would be missed. I think because of Kelly, I haven't been sure. I mean, everyone gets depressed. We all get depressed at some stage and we go through waves of feeling down in the dogs and all that. And then I think you've got to hit rock bottom before you can get up again. When you get to the rock bottom, you know, you can't go any further. The only way out is up. And I've had waves of depression ever since Kelly died. And now I just accept it. Okay, bring it on. All right. I'm not having a real happy day today. I'm feeling a bit sad. That's all right. I'll just run with it. And I've found that as time goes by, it takes less and less time to get out of it. If you accept it and ride with it, then you can. You ride with it until you get to the point where like enough's enough. I've got to get out of this. Yep. And I guess I've got various coping strategies for that. But yeah, you just sort of, you've got to move on. You know, I think we've talked before and I think I've found what my purpose in life is and that's to write. Now I don't necessarily need to write lots and lots of books and that sort of thing. But the responses I'm getting from writing my blog tell me that I'm on the right track. And it's not having too big an ego saying that. I mean, it's a free WordPress site. I'm not sure I've got a website, but I'm not outlaying lots of money and I'm not monetizing this and monetizing that. It's just, it's there if people need it. And what I've found, I took a year's break from it. And what I've found while I was away, that people have been finding it. When I thought that I was probably writing it for my friends and family and they'd just been nice to me, other people have found it. People around the world are commenting on it. So it gives a little bit more meaning to my purpose. We all have to have a purpose of some sort. Absolutely. And there's no doubt about it. You would be helping a lot of people that you don't even know. And that's what I've said right from the word go. I may not ever know if I've helped somebody. I may never know if I've saved somebody's life. But just sitting back and saying, oh, well, I don't know. I won't know. What's the point? Doesn't work. So you have to go on and you've just got to do things. And probably taking that ear off was good for me because even though I've come back to a few hundred messages that I need to respond to, it showed me that what I'm doing is worthwhile. It's not just my ego. Because it wouldn't all, this is basically a mother's journey in the loss of a child. So it doesn't matter whether it was suicide or whether nature for some reason decided to take it. Really, I guess a lot of it's dealing how I deal with my grief. Yep. Because I can't tell you how to grieve. Because we all grieve differently. We all grieve differently. And my daughter-in-law's just lost a sister last week. And I've been talking to her mother and I said, this is what happened. This is how I did it. You might do it differently. And there's nothing wrong with the way you do it. And there's nothing wrong with the way I do it. There's no right way to grieve. We all grieve very differently. And people might have seen me out laughing and having a good time and thinking, well, she's not grieving very much. But you can put on a good front for everybody else. Oh God, they don't see you with your face in your pillow at night time. So I think for a start, I have a work colleague say to me, I'd only been back at work probably about a month. And I ran into him one lunchtime and he was an older man. And I was really surprised because he said to me, aren't you over it yet? And I looked at him and then he said to me, I suppose that was a silly thing to say. And I said, yes, because I knew that I'll never be over it. And I suppose in the early months, I wore my heart on my sleeve. But then I learned to try control my grieving to private. So it wasn't upsetting people. But see, I suppose generations gone back, you know, they used to lose children. It was a common thing. You would have 14 children and you know, it would be how many made it through to adults, sort of thing. And I know back in those days, they didn't even talk about the ones they lost. They'd just have another baby and name it the same name again. So you'd get a John born three times sometimes. Yeah. And I know my grandmother lost her daughter at 16. She had a heart attack and died, dropped dead. And mum said, Nana never talked about her ever again. It was like Gwen never existed. And that's how she dealt with it. Yeah. I've known of people that couldn't talk about them at all. Yeah. And it's only, of recent times that a friend who lost someone not long after Kelly never talked about it. And now, because you didn't mention that child's name, because she just wouldn't talk about it. But now you can, you can talk about it. And it just flows now. So I guess it's time. Time's probably the biggest thing. So as a kid, you can't wait to grow up. And I guess with grief, eventually it settles down to a manageable level. And just because I'm out laughing and having a few drinks and kicking my heels up and all that sort of stuff, doesn't mean I don't still grieve. Oh God, you have to. Yeah. You can't lose a child and not grieve, you know, and forget that they ever existed. Cause they are in your memories and they're etched in your memories. So whether you put them on the shelf and, you know, and never look at that shelf ever again. Well, as a mother too. And I mean, they're part of you. And I guess even adopted children would be part of the mother because you've just, you do so much for them that you're as little ones, you're absorbed by them. Absolutely. Yeah. So grief will always be there. It's just how you handle it and it's easier to talk about it. So, you know, people might have said to me, Oh, I suppose you don't want to talk about it. No, bring it on. Ask me any questions about Kelly you want, because I love talking about her because that brings her memories back, you know, and we always have those memories. I mean, she was vain as a little girl, but she was very caring and birthdays were special and, you know, special, birthdays are mother's day and father's day. She was the one that would always bring you breakfast. Didn't happen to be good, but it was always. So she was a very caring, nurturing girl. Do you think she understands or had any understanding of the impact that her passing would have on everyone? I don't, because that's not who she was. I think she was so consumed by pain that she couldn't bear it anymore. Because if she'd stopped and thought about how everyone left behind would feel, I don't think we'd have done a lot with it. Were you aware that she was in that much pain at that stage? I knew she was struggling. In fact, I'd had her to a psychiatrist. I'd had her into the psychiatrist twice. Twice she'd been admitted to the local psychiatric centre. And the second time, the first time they were great, we had a family meeting and they'd listen to us and they explained what was going on. Kelly was there too. The second time, which was probably six months later. I can't remember the exact times. Vastly different. We were just informed there was going to be a meeting, sort of be there or we're going to do it anyway. So we went to the second family meeting expecting much of the same, but it was in a bigger room. And I'd written a couple of typewritten pages of incidents that had been happening prior to her being admitted. And she was admitted involuntarily by the psychiatrist who happened to be the wife of my boss. And when Ross had taken Kelly into the psych centre and he was sitting outside while they assessed her and she came out and she said, Ross, what are you doing here? And he said, he'd just brought Kelly in and why? And she said, right, leave it with me and turned around and went back in and made her an involuntary patient. And she'd been in there for probably nearly a week and we had this meeting and the psychiatrist sat up on a small little dais and there was all these, it was our family, two children and a husband. And then all these other people started to fall into the rooms, nursing staff and they were sitting around the edges of the room. And then Kelly came in holding a clipboard and she got up the front with the psychiatrist and he started it and said something about it. And then he asked, did you have anyone have anything to say? And I put my hand up and I said, well, I've written some incidences of things that have been happening because she was totally off the rails. So I read out what the things that had been happening, little things like she had a hatchback car that was in our backyard and I came out one morning and the hatch backs up and she had a drape with curtains and flowers and things on it. It was just a bit weird. So I read all this out and then the psychiatrist turned to Kelly and he said, well, what do you have to say about that? So she went on to some long garbled explanation and he turned to me and he said, she was drunk. And I sat there and I thought, wow, seen and been drunk many times, but I've never seen one behave like that. I mean, I have a nursing background and then she hadn't been able to get her car to go because she had a couple of little accidents where she'd run up the back of a couple of cars, no damage done, but we were concerned that she might really hurt somebody or kill somebody. So Ross took the rotor button out of the car. He mentioned that in the meeting and the psychiatrist told him to put it back because she was an adult, she could make her own mind up. And it was just so uncaring. Anyway, four months after that, she was dead. He let her out of hospital that day and said she had to come home. I didn't want her to come home. I was really angry about it all and the way we'd been treated, but she came home, came home with us that day and then went off on her way again. But she was giving things away, which is a big sign of that I'm not going to be here for very long. And she, I'd made her deb dress and she had an attachment to the deb dress, but she started carrying it around in a black garbage bag and she came home to stay once one night and she'd left the garbage bag with the deb dress in at the bottom of the stairs. So I took it and ran across the road to my neighbour and asked her to keep it for me because somehow I knew that I needed it and we buried her in her deb dress. She didn't even notice it was missing. She obviously thought she'd given it away because she gave so much of us and things away. But she was like an old bag lady, carted stuff around with her and there was, seemed to be nothing we could do. I had her under psychiatric care, but there was nothing we could do. We heard later that she was selling her medications. Pretty hard to help someone. Yes, they don't want to be helped. No. So I think we didn't do what we could do. It wasn't enough. So she wasn't meant to live beyond 20. We were blessed to have for 20 years and she'll never get old. That comforts me to be able to say that I think she was never destined to be an old lady. That's what I said about Diana when she died. Diana was the same age as me. She was never going to get old and look hot and look haggard. She was always going to be young and beautiful. Yes. She was always so young and beautiful. We were really, really fortunate because my neighbour that I'd taken the dead list to had been a photographer and she decided she'd get back into photography and she chose Kelly for her for a subject. So probably about a month before Kelly died, she took all these beautiful photos of Kelly. So we had these amazing photos of her. So you know how often you don't have good photos of family members and you go hunting for them in amongst them all. The universe knew, didn't it? Yeah. When you look back, everything was getting set into place. How did her siblings deal with it? I don't know. Hard to say. I know the morning she died, once the ambulance men had finished and you know, it said to me that there was nothing more they could do. They asked was there a bed that they could put her on and they put her on the spare bed. And I can remember Matthew standing back leaning against the passage wall looking through to her on the bed. Fiona was different. She was trying to cuddle her and crying. We talked. We all drank far too much alcohol. But as a family, we talked. We'd sit around a fire and have drinks and talk about Kelly. So I think that helped a lot, helped all of us really. I remember saying, because I went to counselling for a little bit and I remember saying to the counsellor that I was concerned about them and because she knew that what we'd been doing, I mean every Friday night, we always had to get together around a fire barrel and tea and drinks. And she said, but no, they've got their counselling. They have their counselling every week when you get together and talk. So I think they dealt with it reasonably well that way because we always talked about her. It was not pushed aside and everyone got to say what they needed to say. So she died at home? She died at home. Yeah. Who found her? Ross. Oh. I'd gone to the gym. I used to get up in the morning, leave at home at six o'clock and go to the gym. And it was dark when I left home and I walked across the decking to the car and I'd open the gates and then back out and then close the gates and then go to the gym, do my session at the gym and I'd have my shower and get dressed there. And then I'd come home and park at the front and come in and have my breakfast and put my makeup on. And I remember coming home thinking, oh, I'm so hungry. Can't wait to get home to my porridge. And when I got turned into my street, there was an ambulance and two police cars and the bus was just coming up the road. And I thought, oh, someone's been hit by the bus. I couldn't get a car park. I had to park two houses up the street. So I was walking down the street and then the bus took off and nothing, no one was around. And I walked down to my gate and as I walked in my gate, I looked up and the front door was open. And I thought, and I wonder whether perhaps Ross had had a heart attack or, and then I stepped in the front door and I could see down the passage, the ambulance man on the floor working on a body. And we had a long passage, it was an old house and a very long passage. And I started walking down the passage and somehow a man in blue appeared beside me and said, are you mum? And I said, yes, what's happened? Who is it? And he said, I'm sorry, but he said, your daughter's hung herself. And I kept going. Now I was the unit manager of the medical imaging at private hospital here in Geelong. And I knew a lot of the ambulance men. And when I stepped into the room, the guy that was ventilating Kelly or attempting to looked up and saw me and he went, oh, cause he knew who I was. And I just raised my eyes and he shook his head. So I knew she was gone. And there were policemen with Ross in the kitchen. And yeah, it was just awful. He'd woken up with the dog. He'd been talking on the phone. Someone had rung in and the dog was barking weirdly. So he came down to the kitchen because our bedroom was the front of the house. He came down to the back of the house to see what Toby was barking about. And he went out onto the decking and he thought, oh, someone's playing a joke. They've played a prank. They've hung a doll on the clothesline. But when he got closer, it was Kelly. So he had to get her down. And he rang the ambulance and they talked him through CPR. And cause he's there on his own with her. I wasn't home. So by the time I got home, everyone had arrived. It was too late. But she'd asked him a week or two before she came home to live the week before she died. And when you read stories about people that have suicide, they try to make their loved ones feel loved before they go. There's lots and lots of stories of that. So she came home and she asked him one day, if she had your tie a noose, cause he'd been a scout. And he said, I'm not going to tell you how to do that. Well, she must have researched it because it was cold and wet when she, the night she died or the morning she died. And she, her feet were dry and clean. So she hadn't gone out to the shed to get a rope. She'd already had it with her ready. So she planned it all and just, she possibly would have done it the day before, but Ross got up to get a drink of water and she was in the kitchen and she said, Oh dad, what are you doing here? She made her plans and she followed through. Yep. She had, I mean, it haunted him for a long time. And he used to say to me, oh, we need to sell this house. It's too big for us. Two of us. I'd say, no, no, no. Because my memories of Kelly were there and it wasn't, I came home one night and he was having a few drinks. Oh, that's right. And I just bought myself a new microphone recorder. So I wanted to test it out. So I said, we're sitting outside on the decking, having a drink and I put it all together and I started asking him questions. And from that came that he said every morning he had to brace himself to step out onto the decking. And I thought, how selfish should I have been wanting to keep this house when all I had for him was the memory of him having to get his daughter down the beam and try and do CPR on her. So we then decided to sell the house. Move on. Did that work? Yeah. Does it make you move on? Yeah, I think it does. It's not our house anymore. I mean, I can drive past, every time I go down the street, I can drive past it. We had this huge oak tree out the back, you know, was relatively small when we first moved there. But when we left, it was probably three foot across in the trunk, massive. You could see it from a great distance, would have been 30 foot tall and they cut it down. The new owners cut it down and shredded it. And that makes you realise that life does go on, it really does go on. You stay in the past. You have to move forward. Yeah, you do. There's been some amazing things happen in my life. Don't you think the RUIK campaign has gone? Do you think that has prevented people from taking their own life? Maybe. Are you thinking about them a little bit more? Maybe. But my thoughts on that are it should be every day. It shouldn't be just one day a year. Oh, God, you're right. It's one day a year. I've got permission to ask you, are you okay? That's not right. But do you think that's just educating them to ask them for other days? Oh, look, I think it's a good thing. I'm not, don't get me wrong. I do think it's a good thing. I just think it's not big enough. We're still losing far too many people to suicide. And I don't know what the latest stats are, but it's huge. It's far too many, given that we talk about it so much more. Yeah, because there's the stats for men are quite horrendous, actually, isn't it? And I mean, women are more likely to take an overdose or cut their wrists or that sort of thing. But men tend to be more like hang themselves or shoot themselves or drive into a tree. Yeah, so many. And the suicide rate is really not. That's not talked about at all. No, but it's not accurate, what I'm looking for, because, as you said, driving to a tree, we don't know how many single vehicle accidents are actually suicides. Or just gone to sleep at the wheel or swerve to avoid a kangaroo or something like that. We don't know. And it absolutely falls within these really strict guidelines. It's not classified as a suicide. So the suicide rate is, I think, would probably be a lot higher than the numbers we actually see. Yeah. Statistics can only classify something as a suicide if it falls into these certain categories. And from what I know is people can attempt suicide several times before they actually complete it too. Yes. So and it's a cry for help to stuff this ongoing anyhow. And they don't or can't talk about their pain. Kelly attempted suicide once before. She took an overdose and then she rang me at work. She'd just come home from school and she rang me at work and she said, Mum, I've taken too many pills. Oh crikey. So I had to drop everything and try and get home through the after school traffic. And I rang my doctors and said, what do I do? And they said, call an ambulance. So I got home, I called an ambulance and I got home and she was all right. She'd been sick and she blessed that she had the tails soaking in the laundry sink because she'd cleaned up after herself. And I'd said to her, look, the ambulance is coming. We're going to have to send you in anyway. So they took her in, but nothing really came from that. That was when she was about 16. So at least four years earlier. So yeah, well, and you don't hear of a lot of these attempted suicides. No, you don't know. They're just, yeah, statistics, hidden statistics that never recorded. Yeah, not recorded. No, no. Your book is coping with suicide. Yeah. Website is coping with suicide. Yep. Dot com dot au. Dot com dot au. Yes. So any international has got to go dot com dot au. Yep. And the blog is posted on the website. So it's accessible there. And I also posted on my Facebook page, Christine J Howard. Christine J Howard. Yeah. So people can find it there. And any information they need to know on suicide, where do they find? Well, beyond blue. Beyond blue lifeline. There's a lot of information on the web about it. Yeah. And I mean, really, that's where I got most of my information. And from a mother's perspective, your blog would be just. More with stuff about Kelly, but I just write about everyday stuff. I'm not writing statistics. I'm not doing, there is one of my blog posts was on statistics and you know, what to say, what not to say. And a lot of people have accessed that. I just write about everyday stuff, you know, decorating the Christmas tree. This is new year, new year's resolutions or choices. And this week was about the people are loving the people that are around us, making the most of what we've got around us, because you never know, they might not be here next week. Oh, you're not wrong. And we just take things for granted. And then everything's a shock when something happens. I mean, okay, we expect our elderly parents and relatives to die at some stage. Yep. So that when they die, it's sad. It can still, you know, you've got that initial shock and it's sad, but it's acceptable because they've lived a long life and they've lived long. Yeah. But anyone in middle age, you know, disease, suicide, car accidents, whatever, we're shocked and it's awful. It's always awful. But, and then the younger ones, it's a terrible shock. And just because they're young, they're not going to die. No, look, I've sat with parents that have passed away, several of them. Yep. And it's a privilege and an honor to be with them. Yes. My 41 or two year old son in law watching him. I wasn't with him when he passed away, but just seeing him just before he did pass away, like a few hours before was just horrendous. It was just horrible. Chris, it was just, it was like, this shouldn't be the way. And it was just so sad. Yeah. But that was life. And that was his life. And that's what the universe gave him. Yes. And I think, but we really have to appreciate who we've got around us. Yes. Yes. Instead of just taking them for granted. Yeah. And I think losing Kelly has made me think more often about the people that are around me and how special they are and how blessed I am to have had friends and family around me, because I know there are people out there that don't have anyone. Yeah. Very true. And yeah, so I definitely consider myself blessed. And to repay that being blessed is why I write the blog, I think. Oh, no, that's fantastic. Hopingwithsuicide.com.au. Yes. Beautiful. Thank you for talking to me today, Chris. I know that you would have helped someone somewhere along the line. I hope so. Just even, yeah, explained to other people, you know, how you do deal with it and how you cope with it. It's just been fantastic. Yeah. Because it has been a subject and I want to bring that out of the cupboard. Oh, there's lots of taboo subjects. Give me a taboo subject and I'll talk about it. I love it. Okay. Thank you, Doreen. I've enjoyed it. Good. Thank you. Thank you so much for listening to Wow, Love, Love Inspire, the podcast. Look, a special thank you to Christine Howard for her honest, raw, open conversations about how she dealt with losing her daughter to suicide and how a mother deals with losing a child altogether and how the family coped with it. It was really a very interesting conversation. Now, we release new episodes every week, so please press the subscribe button, come back and enjoy all the different podcasts that we've done over the last year or so. Also, give us a five star rating. I love that. Leave us a review. We really like to hear what you think and maybe give us some suggestions on what else you'd like to hear us talk about as well. Now, I'm Loreen Roberts. I'm a productivity strategist. I'm a person who deals with all sorts of issues. I help people with trauma and going through stuff. So, if you need to reinvent your life, get into action, get through all the crap that's been there and want to know how you do it, then I am the person who you need to speak to. So, get in touch with me. You can find me on Facebook. You can find me through all the Facebook groups or Women of Love, Light, Inspire. And thank you to Nissa. Nissa is my producer and she's the person who's put this together for you. So, thank you, Nissa. You've been fantastic. And remember that everything that we've spoken about today is just general information. It was about Christine's life and what happened with her. It's not about you and your life. So, if you need some help, please find yourself an expert. You know, ring Lifeline if that's what you need to do or some other organisation beyond blue. That's what we have in Australia. And get yourself some help because mental health is not an easy issue and everybody has deals with things differently. So, if you need someone to talk to, please get in touch and find someone who can help you, someone who knows what to do and that will help you in some ways. So, Lorene Roberts here. Thank you for listening. Subscribe. We'd love that and talk to you later.