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Sisters walk to raise awareness of suicide

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.
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. 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 visit https://walkforawareness2017.everydayhero.com/au/Marquisfam.

If you or someone you know needs help phone: Lifeline 131114, Mensline 1300789978, Suicide Call Back Service 1300659467, Kids Helpline 1800551800, Beyond Blue 1300224636 or Mates in Construction 1300642111.

Topics:  don't suffer in silence mental awareness foundation mental health awareness


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