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Stuart Kelly's death is a reminder of all our vulnerable teens.

What a terrible waste. Looking at photos from the funeral of Stuart Kelly who took his own life last week, all I could think was what a terrible waste.

It is impossible to comprehend what the Kelly family is going though right now. After losing their son Thomas four years ago to a cowards punch attack in Kings Cross, they have now lost another child.

The death of any child – young or old – is an enduring tragedy for any parent. A child dying before their parents goes against the laws of nature. But it is another terrible, unnatural blow for a child to die when they have yet to reach adulthood.

To see them into the world, raise them through their frantic, beautiful, tricky and sometimes difficult childhoods and then lose them with so much of their life ahead, is almost impossible to bear.

Stuart Kelly speaks about losing his brother (post continues after video):

Video by Fairfax Media

Sadly it is a problem for many Australian families.  A report released last year painted a “confronting picture” around teenage depression, self-harm and suicide.

According to the report – the largest ever national survey of youth mental health of its kind in Australian history – released by health minister Susan Ley  – about one in 13 teenagers (aged 12 to 17) have contemplated suicide with one in 20 reportedly making a plan to take their own life and one in 40 attempting it.

It is devastating to think there are so many teens who feel there are no other solutions but to take their lives. Any parent of  a teenager has heard the stories passed around from school to school of “this girl” or “that boy”  who has taken their life. Each story reignites the thin thread of fear in parents for their own children – because they know that sometimes – often – there is no real warning of this catastrophic plan.

Thomas and Stuart Kelly together in their childhood. Image via The Project.
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The same week that Stuart died, another boy - Louis Doulougeris, who was in Year 10 at Sydney's Newington College - also died. I had heard about it first from my own teenage daughter who had heard about it from friend at her school suburbs away.

These are the stories we hear about. There are others we do not.

If I could have one power in the world it would be to hold all these young people close and tell them to hold on to their lives. I would tell them that they are loved and valued and that even when things seems terribly bleak there is hope.

I would tell them that the world can be cruel and unkind but also beautiful and that if you look you will find helpers out there ready to lend a hand.

Today, like so many other people I am devastated by the deaths of these young men I didn't even know. Devastated for them, and for their families and friends, but also for a society where young people feel such a death of hope.

The best we can do for those left behind is promise that as individuals and a community we will take good care of our young people, never forgetting as they form into adults how fragile they can be - and always giving them as much as we possibly have to give.

For confidential help, call Lifeline at 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. 

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