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"Check in on your mates" - A piece on the impact of suicide on those left behind...

This was sent in to us by ETU WA Honorary Member George ‘Cookie’ Edwards about the devastating impact of suicide and the personal affect it has had in his life.

Cookie would like us to share it with you in the hope it may resonate with anyone who may be feeling this way, to try to make a different decision. And to encourage all of us to look after our mates and check in. Even when everything might seem fine.

Cookie created this beautiful painting to honour his friend Iszac. He and Iszac had a great bond, despite their near 60- year age gap..

Written by Cookie:

“Eight Australians die every day by suicide. 75% of those who take their life are male. Iszac Rowe was a brother, son, grandson, nephew, cousin, friend and so much more to so many people.

Unfortunately, we lost him to suicide on the 10th of June 2022, 14 days before his 24th birthday. He was an electrician in the Midwest of Western Australia. He loved his job, loved helping people and loved his family.

The loss of someone to suicide is devastating. It shakes you to your core when someone who is always smiling, always the larrikin, and up for a laugh is the one that hides so much pain. Iszac was an old soul from the time he was a young boy and made friends with people of all ages; from 18 to 90. He always found something in common and something to chat about with all he met.

Suicide is a silent and dangerous epidemic. It is not a selfish act. It is not the coward's way out. I implore you to imagine yourself feeling so deeply sad and hurting so badly that you see ending your life as your only option for your pain to end. These individuals know they are loved and they know they are worthy, but this is the decision they make. It is indeed a black dog that overshadows people’s lives and can feel inescapable.

Unfortunately, I learnt all this only after the loss of my brother. From the power of the language used about his death to coming to accept his decision [sic]. The use of the word ‘committed’ suicide has been one of the most hurtful things. Committed connotes that he did something wrong, committed a crime. My brother did nothing wrong; it was his mental health that failed him. He died by suicide or took his own life. My brother was seeking help from professionals, talking to mates, and leaning into family. He had so many plans and so much left to do and unfortunately his time ended [sic].

Although it is too late for me to save my brother or for my parents to save their only son, it is not too late for people to reach out when they’re struggling. You are not alone. Your family needs YOU. Your friends need YOU. The world needs YOU. Please stay around for the people who love you.

Watch out for your mates. If something in your gut says something isn’t right, talk to them. And when you ask them the too common phrase “are you ok?”, be prepared to listen.

Without judgement.

Without trying to solve their problems or make them seem less significant than they are. Just listen.

Encourage them to get help from their GP or connect with services specialising in mental health. They are worthy of help and the chance to see the light at the end of the tunnel that for many in the grips of depression don’t think exists. And be there for them in their journey. A journey that can feel frustrating to those around the person when they reject support, but a journey that people can never, and should never, travel alone.

Checking in on your mates is not just a one-day-a-year thing. It is every day.”

George ‘Cookie’ Edwards ETU WA Honorary Member

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