It’s almost two years since Justine Wilkinson’s daughter, Caitlin Wilkinson Whiticker, took her own life at their home.
Caitlin, 18, had battled severe and complex mental illness for most of her teens and had been a patient at the Barrett Centre, Queensland’s only long-term residential facility for adolescents with extreme mental illness.
“They have to have hope, that’s what keeps them going and for all its faults that’s what Barrett gave them,” Ms Wilkinson said.
“They went to Barrett and when they were a suicide threat, they were actually monitored 24-hours a day, always in contact with one staff member that was dedicated to them, so it was really intensive treatment.”
‘It was just too much pain.’
An inquiry heard a plan to replace the ageing Barrett Centre facility was scrapped under Queensland’s former LNP government and the facility was subsequently shut down in January 2014.
Within eight months, Ms Wilkinson Whiticker was dead.
“She’d just reached a point where she really just didn’t want to go on any longer. It was just too much pain,” Ms Wilkinson told 7.30.
“So we lost her.”
But Ms Wilkinson Whiticker was not the only one.
The Barrett Centre was a life-saver for desperately ill teenagers and their families. For Nichole Pryde the centre was a last resort for her mentally unwell daughter, Talieha.
“I fought hard to get her to go into Barrett because I thought that was the last chance, the last chance I had of keeping her alive,” Ms Pryde said.
When the centre closed 17-year-old Talieha was moved to an adult unit.