‘Feinted at school today. At the front of assembly. Hardly slept last night. Survived a jog this morning with Dad, barely. I feel bad! There’s no real reason I can think of. Lack of sleep maybe. Tomorrow is school camp. What is going on with me? Felicity Peel is nice to me. So is Shayaga , Ben and everyone. Today is the first day of year 12. I haven’t finished my holiday homework and I don’t want to. Most people managed to finish all their homework. I feel like I cant do anything! But I can! I just don’t want to! I don’t want to bring down my whole school’s score! I’m not excited about sport. I’m dreading house swimming and house athletics. Is it just ‘cos I’m tired? It wouldn’t be that hard to just end everything.’
These are the last written words of a 17 year old, minutes before she took her own life. I've just watched "Australian Story" a wonderful documentary series which covers all sorts of human interest from life on the land to emigrant tales, celebrity lives and of course those who plough through many areas of physical and psychological challenge. I was actually on the computer with the story in the background and it wrenched my heart . .
There was a time in his early teens when Adam, not the best of communicators as a tween, frequently said he felt 'funny' not in a physical way but when I think back he had a lot to cope with. He went to a school where he didn't know anyone, was dealing with the onset of puberty, was overweight and self-conscious and I wonder now if perhaps he was going through some sort of depression but simply didn't know how to express it. Fortunately it was short lived and of course, he's fine now. Well-adjusted, tall, popular, muscled, handsome and in love so that episode was soon extinguished. Not so for many youngsters who know there's something wrong but are unable to express their angst in even the most loving of families.
Hannah Modrum, came from a loving, middle class family. She had great relationships with her parents and sibling and despite the difficulties of living with a deeply autistic brother they were close. So close that her mother was absolutely astonished and shattered when she read her daughter's diary after her death, it clearly conveyed feelings of sadness, tiredness, and a gentle bewilderment at why she felt the way she did. Her family were supportive, sought medical help for their tired and lacklustre teen but the awful truth was that Hannah suffered from depression and was never properly diagnosed and never shared her feelings with either schoolmates or family.
This was an intelligent, attractive, popular little girl who thought she could handle things on her own, not bother her family who had already been burdened with placing their son into care and her mother's cancer scare. She tried going it alone and put her thoughts in her diary.
I've never read my daughter's diary. I know she documents much on her travels and scribbles away in notebooks when the mood takes her. I've found little books whilst tidying her room but always resisted the temptation (respected her need to vent via the written word). I've stared longingly at the covers . .but never actually opened them. I think our relationship is open enough for her to tell me if there's a problem but now I wonder. I've always respected both my children's privacy to an extent but . . makes you wonder if sometimes you should take a non-judgemental peek, just in case.
She was the girl least likely . . and her parent's heartbreak brought me close to tears.
All I can say, is that if you know anyone who gives the slightest of clues whether you know them or not, step in, lend a hand, let them know there is help and hope, someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, and that it's not something to be ashamed of. I'm incredibly impressed that this family had the bravery to share their daughter's story and hope it offers courage to other parents to show some compassion and ask the gentle questions rather than reap the awful consequences. It's important to read between the lines. If you're wrong . .no harm done . .if you're right . .could safe a life! And kudos, really, to the Modra family for airing their story . .very brave and very necessary.
- Salvation Army 24 hour Care Line: 1300 36 36 22
- Lifeline 24 hour Counselling Service: 13 11 14
- Kids Help Line: 1800 551 800
- 24 hour counselling service for young people aged 5 - 18
- The Samaritans
- Or freecall 1800 199 008
- Mental Health Emergency Response Line: 1300 555 788
- Western Australian Governement Department Of Health Mental Health Emergency Report Line
- SANE: Mental Health Information Help Line
- 1800 187 263 Monday to Friday 9-5 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Vision Australia Translating and Interpreting Service: 13 14 50
- Rural Mental Health Network Support Line: 1800 201 123
- An organisation aimed primarily at farmers in NSW.
- Reach Out! is a web-based service that inspires young people to help themselves through tough times.
- Suicide Call Back Service - 1300 659 467 (10am – 8:30pm)
- The Suicide Call Back Service is a free nation-wide telephone support service for people at risk of suicide, their carers and those bereaved by suicide. The service is the first professional service of its kind in Australia, providing people with up to 6 telephone counselling sessions, whereby the same counsellor will call those in need at times suitable for them. The service operates seven days a week, from 10am – until 8:30pm and has already assisted over 200 of Australia’s most at risk individuals.