News headlines over the last week have canvassed two celebrity suicides, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Both people had, according to us, the outsiders looking in, the greatest of lives. Wonderful careers, international stardom, immense wealth, privilege, loved children, good relationships with others and so on. Yet for them, for the person that mattered the most, those things meant nothing in the end.
We can never fully understand the pain, the grief and the absolute isolation and sense of hopelessness that goes with a suicide. The state that a person must be in to take his or her own life is beyond my comprehension as a layperson. It’s something I’ll leave to the professionals, the psychiatrists to make comment on.
When looking into suicide a little more, I was shocked to learn that it remains the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44 with the most recent Australian data (ABS, Causes of Death, 2015) reporting deaths due to suicide in 2015 at 3,027. That is a hell of a lot of people and a number that we as a society should be gravely concerned about. What can we do? How can we help? What preventions can be taken? are questions we should be asking ourselves.
For the families of both Spade and Bourdain, the deaths of their loved ones came as a surprise, a shock. Indeed, Spade’s husband, although admitting that she had been suffering from depression and anxiety for many years said in a statement:
‘She was actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease, one that takes far too many lives. We were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy. There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock. And it clearly wasn’t her. There were personal demons she was battling.”
Similarly, Bourdain’s mum has expressed a similar sentiment when she said: ‘He is absolutely the last person in the world I would have ever dreamed would do something like this’.
So who would do something like this? How would we know? How can we tell? If the past week is anything to go by, suicide can happen to anyone at anytime with no hint or clue. Indeed our toughest friend, our most stoic family member may be the person we need to concern ourselves with the most.
I liked a post I saw on Facebook today. It read: ‘Don’t forget to check on your strong friend’. I love that. Indeed, it is often those whom we never think of who are suffering in silence the most. For me, that phone call I have been meaning to make to a friend and that coffee date I have meant to follow up on seem, after the past week, more important than ever before….
 Lifeline Australia www.lifeline.org.au
Clare Sultmann is a wife, mother of 3 and the founder of Dear Molly.
As a survivor of a catastrophic accident, former barrister at law, published author, and nationally accredited mediator Clare has returned to work in a different capacity. Relocating to Noosa shortly after the birth of her first child, Clare found it difficult to make meaningful and real connections with other like-minded women away from her own network of friends. With this in mind, Clare’s idea was born. Dear Molly aims to provide connections for like-minded women in a real, meaningful and positive manner. It a platform to share, communicate and inspire other women about their ‘real’ life.