MARGO McAllister worries about people who do not know about Compassionate Friends, an organisation that supports newly bereaved families to which she gives much of her time.
“Encouraging people to say ‘RU OK’ is not always easy and we must get people to open up,’’ she said.
“Suicide is the most common cause of death in 16 to 40 year olds in Australia. There are eight suicides a day, plus the hidden figures such as fatal accidents, and for each person who takes their life, at least 10 people are closely affected.”
Mrs McAllister is one of them.
In 1986, her son Kevin was just 23 years old and an ambitious young man who had established a printing business. He was a father of two – aged four years and four months – but his business failed and he went bankrupt.
“He was working so hard and I thought he might get the business going again,’’ Mrs McAllister said.
“He sounded so positive and repaid as many creditors as he could, even though he didn’t have to.
“But he felt he had let people down.”
Just three months later, he had taken his life.
After her son died, Mrs McAllister was offered professional grief counselling but desperately needed to speak to someone who had been through a similar experience.
“I thought I was going crazy,’’ she said.
That was when she discovered Compassionate Friends.
“I just walked into a room of bereaved parents and knew I was not alone,” she said.
“Suddenly I had a place.
“They understood my anger and were empowering and non-judgemental.
“And there does come a time when you can look at a picture of a loved one and smile, not cry.”
Mrs McAllister said she had never forgotten what it was like to be bereaved and had tried to take something positive from a traumatic event.
“Being powerless happens but its what we do with it that counts,’’ she said.
The international organisation has chapters across Australia and two in WA.
The Mandurah office is at Lotteries House on 9535 7761, 9582 8113 (after hours) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The group is also looking for volunteers.
If you or someone you know needs help now, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the suicide prevention line on 1800 273 8255.