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Janine's story: From despair to healing

27 October 2017 Stories of hope

“Nathan took the car. And I can remember him walking down the front steps and opening the gates. And it was the last time I ever saw him.”

Today, Janine is left with this heartbreaking, final memory of her eldest son. Sadly, Nathan took his own life at 31 years of age.

Janine describes Nathan as, “a man who had lived, loved, married and fathered two children”. For Janine, it’s these memories that make his death so unexpected.

“We really didn’t have any idea that Nathan wasn’t well. He’d been living in Mackay for three years with his wife and his two little kids,” Janine remembers. “The first sign we got was a phone call. He just rang me one day and said ‘Mum, I’m coming home. My marriage is over’. Then he returned to Sydney and three weeks later he took his own life.”

Janine and the rest of Nathan’s family were consumed not only with the pain of loss, but with an overwhelming and confusing mix of feelings—guilt, anger, fear and blame. And they had so many questions.

“We struggled desperately to seek answers,” Janine says. “What signs did we miss? Could we have done more? How was I not able to save my son? Why was the love of family and friends not enough?”

Trying to make sense of her loss, Janine joined a Wesley LifeForce Network—a nationwide program that trains people to recognise the warning signs of suicide and to understand how to offer support, before it’s too late. It was through the support and action of this Wesley LifeForce Network that Janine found the strength she needed to keep going.

What pains Janine the most is not having the opportunity to say goodbye. “I was there when my son took his first breath,” she says. “But not there when he took his last. My son left this world alone.” Suicide leaves deep and lasting emotional scars on those left behind—scars that Janine believes will take more than time to heal.

“I have found that it’s what you do with your time that is the healer,” she says. “I have chosen to help others and channel my efforts in making a difference towards suicide prevention.”