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Damian Little chose to die. His children, Koda and Hunter, did not.

Today Australia is chattering about two men.

One of them is a foolish sportsman who has offended with a bad attitude and some loose words.

The other man killed two tiny children.

The perceived slights of one pale into ridiculous insignificance against the actions of the other, but still, they have been jostling for top spot on our news sites all day.

The murderer has appeared under headlines like DAD’S DEATH DIVE and DAD LEFT SUICIDE NOTE BEFORE DEATH PLUNGE – stories that fail to acknowledge what we’re really looking at when we see those images of a hulking, white station wagon being winched from chilly waters.

It’s not a story about a “doting father” who did something “out of character”. It’s about a man who murdered two small children, and also killed himself.

Damian Little had a choice whether to end his life on a pier in the pretty coastal town of Port Lincoln yesterday. He left a lengthy suicide note online early yesterday morning, stopped at McDonalds for a drive-through coffee and then drove his inescapable car into treacherous waters.

He chose to die that day.

Little Koda and Hunter Little did not. Strapped in the back seats, they chose nothing.

Tiny children don’t get to make choices. Their lives are at the mercy of the adults who love them.

Their safety entirely depends on the sanity and intention of others.

It’s an awesome responsibility. And when it is violated, it leaves only horror behind. Horror and disbelief.

This should have been the month that Koda, 4, was preparing to start school. These should be weeks filled with sensible shoe-shopping, and uniform trial runs, and damp eyes over how a little baby had become a schoolboy, so fast.

It should be the time that little Hunter, not quite one, was wobbling around after the big brother who doted on him. It should be a month of family time – as January is for so many Australians – for time spent together before reality and separation starts over in February.

Perhaps, before yesterday, it was. We will probably never know exactly what happened to set the motions of a murderer in train in the early hours of a quiet January morning.

The tiny details are heart-breaking, and incomprehensible.  The black-netted sunshade, so familiar to parents of little children, was still fixed to the rear window of the station wagon as it was pulled from the water. The carefully chosen cuddly toys left at the water’s edge in memory two small lives.

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Whatever happened to send Damian Little to a place where killing his children seemed his only option, peace has been shattered in Port Lincoln.

LittleFamilyPortLincolnFeatFB
Image via SA Police.

Instead today there is unimaginable darkness for an entire extended family, for a tight-knit community and for one woman, left standing in the debris of a terrible crime.

We need to look away from that man and his darkness. We need to focus ourselves on the senseless loss – the obscene waste – of two lives that hadn’t had a chance to take flight.

We need to send love and support to a woman who has lost everything. For her, in just a few brief moments, one life was over and another unrecognisable one has begun.

Little boys should be loudly playing around their parents’ feet. They should be driving you crazy, and making you laugh and filling your house with the noise of home.

Not so for one family in South Australia today, where the silence will be deafening, the sorrow immeasurable.

Rest well, Koda and Hunter. May you always know how loved you were.

And may the rest of us know how lucky we are today, to be worrying about foolish sportsmen and their loose lips.

If you find yourself in need of help, for any reason, crisis support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

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