WARNING: This article contains content about mental health and suicide that may be triggering for some readers.
“Love you, Dad” are the heartbreaking last words Yasmin Wilson texted her father before she tragically took her own life in November, 2019.
“She carried on as though everything was normal. She even went to the orthodontist that afternoon,” Raj told Yahoo News.
“As a parent you have an optimistic view of your kids and when they go through challenging times, you think they will work through it, they will be fine.”
Raj and his wife knew their 15-year-old daughter was struggling with her mental health, but only with the “benefit of hindsight” could they see how much pain she was in.
“It flicked really quickly. I didn’t understand the depths of what that could lead to. It’s been a painful lesson,” he said.
Look for warning signs
As part of World Suicide Prevention Day, the 56-year-old year old has issued a powerful plea to parents to look for warning signs of mental health struggles.
“If your child or someone close to you is demonstrating even the slightest behaviours of mental health challenges, seek help” he said.
“Every piece of information is important, but with something like mental health, be as vigilant as you can. Don’t rationalise the severity away.
“There is always hope, there is always support available. I truly believe suicide is preventable.”
Father channels grief into action
Raj said not a moment goes by where he doesn’t feel the loss of Yasmin, who he describes as “an incredibly loving, caring and sensitive individual".
“I deeply loved her, I am so proud of her. But I can’t do anything about it, it's a sadness that will always prevail in my world,” he said.
Over time, the father of two has learned to manage his grief and now celebrates Yasmin’s life, spreading hope to those struggling with mental health and the loss of a loved one.
“If I can do something even really minor that might change things for one family, that is a better way of channeling my grief.”
Now a passionate advocate and spokesperson for mental health support services, Raj has raised over $8,000 with Lifeline Australia to assist suicide prevention.
Take action on World Suicide Prevention Day
It’s estimated nine Australians take their own lives every day.
And for each life lost to suicide, the impacts are felt by up to 135 people, including family members, work colleagues, friends and first responders at the time of death.
“I feel her loss every moment and so do so many other people,” Raj said.
“It’s the people who have to live with it after, their lives are forever changed.”
Lifeline is experiencing a 25 per cent increase in calls during the latest Delta outbreak and lockdown.
“We need a bigger focus on suicide prevention. It doesn’t have to be what it is.”
Raj is encouraging others to participate in Lifeline’s annual Out of the Shadows event on World Suicide Prevention Day.
You can help create change through the following actions:
Take a Walk – Lifeline centres across the nation will be hosting COVID-safe community walks in solidarity to mourn those lost to suicide. Individuals can also register their own local walk.
Plant a Thought – Those not currently able to share the warmth of face-to-face connection can visit the virtual reflective garden. It is a place to come together, united in knowing you are not alone. Visitors can plant a flower and leave a personalised message of remembrance or support for others to read.
Connect, Listen & Talk – Lifeline will be showcasing the personal stories of nine individuals who open up about their experiences with suicide bereavement, suicidal thoughts or attempt, and recovery.
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