Warning: this post deals with themes related to mental health and suicide and may be triggering for some readers. Please contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 if you’re struggling with symptoms of mental illness.
It was two days before her son’s 13th birthday in March last year that Alex Booth’s life changed forever.
The mother of three from North Haven in Adelaide had gone into her son Sam’s room to clean it when he was at school, when she noticed a piece of paper that was not intended for her to see.
The difference between sadness and depression. Post continues after video.
“Sam had drawn images of coffin, and one of himself with a gun drawn to his head saying the words ‘I want to die’,” Alex told Mamamia. “I just felt numb, and I was crying. It was horrible.”
Alex admitted she knew Sam had been struggling at school due to the start of Year 8, but said she was unprepared for being confronted with exactly how bad her son was feeling on the inside.
“He was withdrawn, but I thought it was just trouble settling into high school.”
Not sure what to do after finding the note, Alex called a friend who is mental health nurse. That friend told a psychiatrist colleague about the note, and the action plan was clear: Alex needed to seek help for Sam immediately.
One of the first thing Alex did was speak to the school and alert them to the risk, asking them to monitor Sam’s behaviour.
Then, after trying some avenues in the public health system with no luck, Alex eventually called Headspace, a mental health organisation for young people and those who support them.
Once she’d secured an appointment, she told Sam she’d seen his note.