'Our 14-year-old daughter wants to kill herself'

A COOLUM mum constantly keeps her mobile phone at close reach out of fear she will miss a call or text that could be the difference between life or death.

She wonders daily whether or not her 14-year-old daughter will return home from school.

Anxiety and depression have created a void where the schoolgirl's self confidence and sense of worth once thrived.

The mother has detailed her family's struggle in the hope it will bring light to an issue she feels powerless to defeat.

She initially wanted to be identified in the article, but after further consideration decided it would be too great of a risk to her daughter's recovery.

Such is the genuine touch-and-go nature of the battle to keep her daughter alive.

The mother's sense of powerlessness is partly born from the circumstances of her daughter's childhood.

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The girl has two loving parents with the financial means to live comfortably in a nice house and a stable environment.

Significant trauma so often linked to children's mental health ailments is not a feature of the girl's childhood.

The girl herself is grateful for everything she has been given but says she just doesn't want to live.

"Mum can't kiss these boo boos away," the mother said.

"This is the stuff nightmares are made of."

She found her daughter's first suicide note a few years ago while vacuuming her room one day.

The girl was still in primary school at that stage.

"It was pretty awful," the mother said.

Contributed

She had noticed her daughter had stopped doing the things she loved, like surfing and being at the beach.

"We tried to get help.

"It took six months to get into a private psychiatrist."

She and her husband were worried they would not be a priority if they sought treatment in the public sector.

Her daughter struck up a good rapport with her doctor once she could get an appointment and after six months of counselling stopped treatment.

There was no formal diagnosis of anxiety or depression.

The girl managed reasonably well during her first year at high school but her mother noticed her grades were slipping from their usual high standard.

She said everything had fallen to pieces this year.

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A critical moment came in June when the mother took her daughter to a GP under the guise of a general health check.

But her daughter's concerning behaviour was the real driver.

Physical signs of self harm permeated the mask the girl had used to hide her distress.

"I'd been worried about her.

"I'd been watching her.

"It was really watching her not be able to enjoy herself.

"She found no joy in anything."

Her daughter let her situation pour out as they sat in the GP's consulting room.

She detailed her suicidal thoughts and the reasoning behind her self harm.

"She feels a sense of numbness and that was why she was self-harming - to feel something," the mother said.

"It was pretty harrowing to know that your daughter doesn't want to live and her sense of self worth is zero.

"She doesn't have the strength to go on and you know a mother's love can't fix it."

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The GP referred the girl to the Child and Youth Mental Health Service at Maroochydore and within two days they were able to see a clinician.

They went through some counselling before seeing a psychiatrist who diagnosed the girl with anxiety and depression.

"We were absolutely blown away by the level of help.

"It was the difference between life and death."

The girl's school has also been very supportive in her recovery, allowing time out from class when things become overwhelming.

There have been setbacks - the girl's mother found a suicide note just a few weeks ago.

Her daughter has told her in chilling detail how she planned her own demise.

The recovery is far from over but there are gradual signs of improvement.

The mother has her phone on her at all times in case her daughter calls or texts to say things are too much to handle.

Post-it notes bearing hand-written affirmations adorn the girl's wall as reminders of her self worth and the effects her loss would have on her family and the wider community.

"She has so much to give, so much to offer, but she can't see it," the mother said.

"You can stand tall and proud with a broken arm or a broken leg but for people with depression and anxiety there is a stigma, a non-tangible element that is hard for people to empathise with."

The mother said she and her husband had undergone counselling to learn skills to help manage their daughter's condition.

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She was disappointed it had taken them so long to properly understand the issues.

"We are a tight family unit and it has taken us three years.

"If we can keep her alive we will make her a better and more resilient child."

Her advice to other parents was to seek help.

"Don't be embarrassed, have courage."

"With this illness it is an every-minute-of-the-day struggle to contain their emotions, their feelings, their thoughts.

"It needs to be spoken about - it needs to be widely recognised."


SUICIDE NOTE EXCERPT

2/11/16

I am broken. I am a broken toy. I will never be fixed. I will never be whole again. No matter how much glue or tape you use to fix me I will always be broken. The thing that makes me feel even worse is that I thought I was getting better and yet here I am again.

Today I spent both breaks alone. I built a little cubby so no one can see me or find me. I think I am getting used to being alone. No one understands. No one will ever understand.

 


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