Brief History of Our Son — (White Wreath)

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White Wreath

Personal Stories

Our son was a  happy child. His problems occurred from when he was 18-30 years of age, due to  broken relationships, and termination of pregnancies with his partner.

He turned to  drug use, got in trouble with the law, and disappeared for two years until we  found him.

He became an  alcoholic and could not hold down a job, so we took him under our care and he  lived with us for 12 years.

We helped him  with his own accommodation as he wanted to be independent, but he was always  getting into financial difficulty or trouble with the police. We were always  there to bail him out and help him financially.

We lost a lot  of friends and family, as they could not understand why we kept helping him.

He hit rock  bottom so many times, but we knew we had to help him. He stopped taking drugs  when he was 27, but started to go into depression and was drinking heavily.

Our son was  admitted to hospital where he was kept overnight. After being assessed through  the mental health system, they said there was nothing wrong with him mentally  and that he needed to sober up and sent him home.

Numerous  doctors prescribed him anti-depressants. In 2011, one doctor diagnosed him as  bipolar and gave him medication, which made him feel sick. So our son stopped  taking them.

We could see  he was going through mood swings and was not himself any more. We had seen him  when he had problems with drug and alcohol use, but this was different.

Our local  general practitioner prescribed him anti-depressant medication and he seemed  much happier. We decided he would come to work with us. We would pick him up  from where he was living; take him to work with us. We managed his wage as he  was not good at budgeting his spending and we had to pick up the shortfall.

I would cook  his meals and make sure he was eating well leaving a small amount of cash for  cigarettes, otherwise he would buy alcohol. Dad would go with him to pick up  his prescription to make sure he had enough medication.

One day, after  our son had been drinking and fighting with his girlfriend, Dad found him at  work where he had tried to hang himself. Our son had sent text messages to  friends that he was going to kill himself.

Dad had to  climb 30 feet up a toilet block wall to bring our son down. He was admitted to  hospital and placed under guard for a week.

We spoke to  the hospital psychiatrist, who said our son had told her he did not want to be  on this earth and he would try again.

When we spoke  to our son, he had a blank look on his face, could not give us an answer and  stared at the ceiling all the time.

During his  time in hospital, we asked to see his doctor, but no one spoke to us or  contacted us to say our son was being transferred to a high security mental  health facility.

He was  released after a week, given medication and had an appointment the following  week to see a psychiatrist. Our son did not like the psychiatrist so, after  three visits, we found a psychiatrist who our son liked.

Our son was  doing well, but his medication was not working. He said he could not sleep and  complained that people were following him. His medication was changed several  times.

One Sunday we  took our son and his new girlfriend to see his close friend for the weekend  farm.

We had not met  his girlfriend, but he told us she was much old than him. He said: “Mum, when  you meet her she looks very much older and rough around the edges.”

I gave her a  hug and said to our son that if she makes him happy we are happy.

He was in good  spirits and we hugged. His birthday was on the following Tuesday and I asked  him what he could like to do to celebrate it.

He said: “Mum,  nothing as you and dad have done so much.” I said we would do something the  next weekend. That was the last time I saw him.

Dad saw our  son on his birthday when he took him to get his medication script; he was  happy.

The next day,  Dad received phone calls on the way home from work from a friend of our son. He  was worried that our son was not answering his phone. Dad went to our son’s  unit and his girl friend’s – no one was at home.

Every time  over the years that we could not contact our son, we would ring the hospital or  police. We had to hear over the phone that our son has died in hospital – the  news no parent wants to hear.

Our son was  found hanging in a tree outside his girlfriend’s home; he had been drinking. A  passer-by found him and called the ambulance, who tried unsuccessfully to  revive him.

It is eight  months since our son died and we are still waiting for the police and coroner’s  report.

Our son had a  habit of not taking his medication and then drinking. He had been told many  times by doctors, psychiatrists, us and friends that he should not do this. He  would just say, “I know what I am doing, I am 32 years of age.”

On cleaning  our son’s unit, we found so many clues – police reports that he has been  admitted to hospital for cutting his wrists, fights with police, etc, in the 12  months before his first suicide attempt.

As our son was  an adult – and very good hiding behind his mask to the hospitals, health professionals,  and his family – the hospital or psychiatrists to discuss his admission never  contacted us.

The mental  health system failed our son – he was misdiagnosed. We were alone in trying to  help our son the best way we could, not knowing about mental illnesses.

Our son should  have been kept under observation in hospital or mental health facilities to see  if the medication was suitable and if there were any side effects.

I believe the  medication he was on gave him suicidal tendencies, as this was one of the side  effects mentioned when we read the warning label on his medication.

Our son never  mentioned this – only that he could not sleep at night and slept all day. In  his last six months, our son was not well enough to work with us.

We will never  know why our son wanted to end his life as his conversations with the health  professionals and psychiatrists are confidential. If we had been informed we  could have understood him better.

He is our son  and we have lost friends, as suicide is a stigma. I am pleased we have found  White Wreath as we thought we were alone; it has helped me realise we are not.

Reading the  stories on the website, the similarities stand out – changes need to be made to  the mental health system.

We need  facilities where patients can be assessed, kept under observation, monitored,  and families given support.

Once a person  has tried to commit suicide they should be on a register with the mental health  system, hospitals, and police so the local GP or psychiatrist can be contacted  immediately if they are involved in any altercation or hospitalised.

If they are  adults, their next-of-kin should be notified. We don’t know if our son was  honest with the hospital, health professionals and doctors about his feelings.  We now know from the police reports that he lied to them.

Thanks to  White Wreath for standing up for all the unheard voices of victims of suicide  and their families.

We have to  live without our loved one every day. It is like your heart has been ripped  out. No one understands the pain, except if you have lived in our shoes. Everyone keeps saying that you have to move on and live your  life, but is is so hard – you feel so helpless.