health

'Three years after my brother took his life, I refuse to stop telling his story.'

Warning: This post deals with mental health and suicide and may be triggering for some readers.

My beautiful mum and I wanted to share this piece of writing with you. To give a voice to the lost souls who no longer are with us here on earth and now reside in a peaceful new world.

On 13 December, 2015, our dear Paul Fraser – a son, my only brother and only sibling – ended his battle with his mind and took his own life. Paul kept up the fight for 42 years. How blessed we feel to have had him for this long, how robbed we also feel to lose him in his prime. Without a doubt these have been some of the hardest years in our lives – or what used to be our lives.

Watch: Krissi Grant tells her family’s story on Q & A. Post continues after video.

Video via ABC

My dear mum fought a broken mental health system for the past 25 years, where the only options seem to be hospital or home. Mental health wards aren’t often places of healing, we have little to no safe houses available, a burnt out hospital staff, a government that is spending millions on mental health, yet the figures continue to rise. We have employers who need to educate themselves that the mentally ill can also work and be contributing members of society. We now see an increasingly lonely, isolated, desperate society where basic duty of care, communication skills and resistance are eroding. Bullying is also alive and well.

We have lost the person we loved the deepest. Paul lost himself, unable to see the tall, handsome, kind and caring soul that he was. The world is now quite literally a worse place without him here.

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"My dear mum fought a broken mental health system for the past 25 years, where the only options seem to be hospital or home." Image: Supplied.

This thing called “suicide” has compelled us to share our new reality.

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The stigma behind saying how we really feel, understanding this altered existence.

The compassion of some compared to the abandonment of others.

Followed by the overwhelming kindness and love of some comes the silence.

Some people did stay in beautiful ways whilst others have left mum and I not knowing how to cope with the new us. Some attack your coldness or your unfriendliness in order to justify to themselves that they are right to stay away. We understand that you're afraid of the situation rather than us.

People say, "oh, they weren’t your friends to begin with," or, "you just weren’t close to those family members." But I thought I was.

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Me with my brother Paul when we were children. Image: Supplied.

Mum and I have felt isolation, extreme anger and a whole cocktail of emotions while dealing with the mental health system here in Australia and clueless experts... the loneliness – boy, is it a lonely journey.

The misconception of needing to be healed and the value of time... time does not heal. Forget this saying. You just learn to deal with your day a little better.

People have said that it’s brave to speak and to share. The reality is it’s not brave, it’s survival.

Our lives are now split into before and after.

Do you really want to know how we are doing or is it not socially appropriate?

Our only comfort is knowing Paul is in Heaven away from this cruel world. You need to be hard to survive life these days and hard wasn’t Paul’s scene. He was a gentle soul, better in the arms of God, at peace and surrounded by love. He makes his presence known to Mum and I on our saddest of days and there are many of those.

Eight lives a day are taken by suicide – it takes more lives than cancer or road deaths yet it’s still society's dirty little secret. This stigma must end now.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

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