Concerns linger after death

Peter and Anita Miller with a photo of their son Rhys Connor.
Peter and Anita Miller with a photo of their son Rhys Connor.

The Oldbury couple lived every parent’s worst nightmare when they found out their usually vibrant 25-year-old son had taken his own life, while he was in Newman, where he worked as fly-in, fly-out construction worker.

Mr Miller said his stepson was a normal and happy guy who was well-liked by all, but only 11 days before his death, he had attempted to take his own life at another FIFO location as he struggled to comes to terms with a relationship break-up.

Mr Miller took Rhys to a community mental health unit in Armadale after the first episode. He was told to go home where a doctor would attend to him later that evening.

Instead, he was called and counselled by a case worker and told he should contact the onsite counselling services where he worked if he experienced depression again.

Mr Miller, who raised Rhys since he was a baby, had since learned there was an 80 per cent chance that people who attempt suicided would try again.

‘If we had of been advised by the mental health unit of this fact and Rhys should seek further help before returning to his FIFO work we would never have let Rhys go back to work until he had sought more professional help. He had suffered a life event suicide – a short term depressive episode caused by an event in his life and he was unable to cope with at that time,’ he said.

The Millers were not only left with the grief of losing their son, but were frustrated and angry at the lack of respect or compassion following his death at the FIFO site.

Mr Miller said they were not told of his death until 12 hours after his body was discovered on site. His body was removed and transported to the State mortuary in Perth without their knowledge or consultation.

‘We strongly feel we were denied the natural right of any parent to be given the chance to be with our son and accompany him on his transport to Perth,’ he said.

The Millers had not been contacted by the mine site corporate, or its managers, with a note of compassion regarding Rhys and said they felt like they have been left in the dark regarding the events relating to his discovery and how the situation was handled on site.

They believe more community awareness about suicide prevention is needed and want people, who may have suicidal tendencies, to be treated with more care.

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