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If you feel that you can't go on, TELL SOMEONE - Angela Morton

A Recent School Suicide

Recently I was on holiday out of town with my BFF who I see once a year as we live in different cities.

She has a friend who is a school teacher, a very caring, in touch with reality, passionate woman. Her career is an integral part of who she is and filters into all aspects of her life. I’m going to call her Susan.

I met Susan over lunch on a Saturday. She had been to a funeral that morning and was still tearful and shaken. The funeral had been for a young student of hers who had committed suicide by hanging herself a few days earlier. This in itself was shocking, but Susan went on to describe the consequences of this untimely death on the remaining students, teachers and of course the

student’s family. Disbelief, shock, fear, anger, grief and confusion were everywhere. Susan

described how the school had stepped up and provided incredible support to all those affected.

I was so encouraged by her involvement, her caring, the love she has for her students, her need to help and support and listen to them so beautifully. None of them at this stage actually knew how deeply this affected Susan. She had lost a close family member to suicide about a decade earlier – also a hanging. All these raw memories were stirred again. The guilt, the “what if’s”, the “why?”, the “why didn’t I pick it up?”, the “if only….”, “Maybe I could have done something to prevent it…” .

No one had expected this death. No one had foreseen it. She never spoke of her troubles. She

didn’t seem depressed. There apparently had been a conversation with her mother which had been settled – that is all that was known. The student never spoke…..

The impact of the suicide was huge. A whole school went into shock. Teachers, parents, students,

and other staff all paid attention in their shocked state. A counsellor volunteered to work with all

the students and staff.

They were encouraged to deal with the loss in really healthy ways. Memorials were encouraged.

Talking about her was encouraged. Expressing anger and pain was encouraged. Their sadness and stages of grief were normalised. And Susan was able to process more of her family member’s death too….

The most important message the counsellor left with the students and staff which I feel was so

incredibly important:

If you feel afraid, if you are thinking of taking your life, if you feel like you can’t go on, TELL

SOMEONE. Share it. Talk to someone. If you feel someone you know is afraid or depressed or not

managing, TELL SOMEONE. There is always hope no matter how bad you may feel.

The people who are left behind are left holding so much guilt that they couldn’t prevent the death

and anger that they weren’t given the opportunity to try.

I have personally been through a major depressive episode, although as an adult. I wasn’t dealing

with it and I nearly took my life. I eventually went for help and because I TOLD SOMEONE, was able to get the help I needed. Today I am totally healthy and help other people in similar situations. The trauma has been mostly contained, but none of these children and teachers will ever forget. And I will never forget Susan’s need to prevent this tragedy from happening again.

Angela Morton

Counsellor, Life Coach, Hypnotherapist and Doula

073 6655 884

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