Bali bombing 10 years later: a survivor's story.

Carren in 2002


Trauma, adversity, tragedy; we all define them differently and due to the complicated tapestry that makes up our individual personalities and past experiences, one event can be experienced in a multitude of ways.

And so I’ve learned in my journey as a survivor of the 2002 Bali Bombing, that one event can also be a catalyst for growth and expansion.  Like the butterfly that goes through hell in its transformation from a tiny caterpillar to emerge triumphant as a beautiful butterfly, it is possible as humans to experience the same transition and eventually come out the other side.  It’s taken me 10 years, but I can now look at my experiences as an incredible gift and without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today, I wouldn’t have the insight I now have.

Carren today

While I’ve processed internally the emotions of the attack for so long, I’ve recently shared my story publicly with Sixty Minutes and Marie Claire, so now the facts of my story are widely reported… Suffering a deep depression following the suicide of my partner, I travelled to Bali with my two best friends to commemorate the first anniversary of his passing.  I had developed such intense hatred for myself, that I had made the decision to take my own life while in Bali, neither of my friends being aware of my plans.

Only a few hours after arriving in Bali we found ourselves at the Sari Club and in the centre of the terrorist attack which killed 202 Australians, including my friends Jodi and Charmaine, yet for some unknown miracle spared me.  I suffered serious head injuries and came close to death on many occasions.  The irony of the situation was not lost on me, and I made the decision to live the rest of my life in tribute to my lost friends.

The memorial in Kuta, Bali.

There are hundreds of stories like mine that have emerged from the ashes of the Bali Bombing, for each of us the journey of the past 10 years has been a personal and sometimes lonely one.  The first five years following the attack life passed by in a fog of nothingness.  It was only through the unwavering support of my family and friends that I was able to climb out of the black hole.


Anniversaries force us to reflect on that day and our private anguish becomes public for a short period of time, but after that moment we go back to our families, our lives and our internal coping mechanisms.  The pain is awfully painful and I remember the days that I never thought I’d get through, there seemed no light at the end of a never ending tunnel.

For the past seven years, I’ve played with the idea of writing a book and scribbled random thoughts and paragraphs in a variety of different notebooks.  It was only 12 months ago I had the courage to revisit my experience in its entirety and complete my autobiography ‘Soul Survivor’.

While my book tells only my version of what happened on that day, I hope that for other survivors it symbolises how far we have all come in the past 10 years.  For anyone living in the aftermath of tragedy or suffering from depression, I’m here to show you that it can be ok, things will get better.  I can’t tell you how to do it, but I can tell you how I did it and stand at the end of that dark and lonely tunnel as an example of how life does go on.  I’m constantly humbled by the beauty and joy I am blessed to experience.  Our lives are in a constant stage of transformation and when we are enlightened to the power that lies within, we all can be unstoppable.

Carren Smith presents her Mindset Makeover and Speakers Fast-Trak seminars Australia-wide.  Her autobiography ‘Soul Survivor’ is more than just an account of the 2002 Bali Bombing, it’s a portrait of gritty determination, inspiration. Find her website here.

This is an interview between ABC Angela Catterns and Nick Way, a journalist who has been covering the Bali Bombing story since October 12, 2002. It’s incredibly powerful.

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