'I'm fine': Man's tragic last words to mate before suicide

WARNING: This story relates to suicide.

Sam Webb was at a party when he discovered his mate had been harbouring a dark secret.

His friend Dwayne Lally ushered Sam into his bedroom, but he never expected to hear the man who appeared to have it all was suffering from mental health challenges that ultimately resulted in his suicide.

It was 2013 and Sam had not long moved back to Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast after a stint in the US. He had been friends with Dwayne in his childhood and the pair reconnected as if they'd spent no time apart.

Sam Webb started the LIVIN mental health organisation after losing a friend to suicide. Source: Instagram
Sam Webb started the LIVIN mental health organisation after losing a friend to suicide. Source: Instagram

"He was very charismatic and just a great guy," Sam told Yahoo News Australia as part of its What's Up? mental health series.

"From the outside looking in, he had it all. An amazing loving family, a professional boxer as well as a successful tradesman, and he had a huge group of friends who would do anything for him.

"No one really knew he suffered with bipolar and depression because he hid the pain really well."

Sam recalls last conversation with mate

It was September 15, 2013, when Dwayne invited Sam over for a party with their group of friends.

It was that night he revealed his inner demons that he had kept buried for so long.

Sam, who had his own struggles with mental health and self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, listened as Dwayne said he tried to take his life twice before.

"I was so caught off guard, I had no idea what to say other than reassure him he is loved, and I would be there if he was in a state of mind like that again," Sam said.

"He admitted only some of his closest friends knew.

"He reassured me that night his life was bright and promising, and was talking about all the great things he had to look forward to.

"He guaranteed everything was fine. He looked at me and his last words were, 'Webb, I'm fine'."

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They were two simple words that relieved Sam, and the pair had made plans to watch a boxing match at the pub the next day.

"It was like that conversation never happened when we left the room. The party was back on and full of smiles," Sam said.

Over the course of the night however Dwayne disappeared, and Sam began to fear the worst.

"I messaged him and said: 'Please do not do anything stupid as to what we've spoken about tonight. I'm here for you and will do anything to help you, brother'," Sam said.

But he never replied.

After searching around the Gold Coast for Dwayne he couldn't find him, and calls went unanswered.

Dwayne never made it to the pub to watch the fight the next day.

Dwayne Lally took his own life on September 15, 2013. Source: Supplied
Dwayne Lally took his own life on September 15, 2013. Source: Supplied

Sam's turning point after mate's death

"I remember getting a phone call that afternoon, one I never expected to get," Sam said.

"Dwayne had taken his life, and to have this last conversation with a good friend wearing his heart on his sleeve and then that happening was a real turning point.

"He finally found the courage to speak about it and at a time I was vulnerable too. When he opened up, I told him about my challenges and how I was on the same medication he used to be on.

"We laughed about putting on weight from it and he said he could never do that to family and friends, so I thought he wouldn't do this surely."

Sam said he didn't believe it until the curtains were pulled back at the hospital and he saw Dwayne in the same clothes he was wearing when they were celebrating together the night before.

"It's a life-changing moment and there were so many unanswered questions. There were a lot of feelings of guilt for myself like maybe we shouldn't have been drinking but at the end of the day it was out of my control."

LIVIN encourages people to speak about mental health

Sam and another friend Casey Lyons then launched mental health organisation LIVIN to honour their friend Dwayne.

"He used to always say 'We're Livin'," Sam said.

In the LIVIN logo is also an arrow, another subtle tribute to their mate Dwayne.

"Dwayne and I used to say, as a figure of speech, that 'We're going to the top, it's going to be a great life, we're going to kill it," Sam said.

As Dwayne's suicide rocked Sam and his own battle with depression, he said establishing LIVIN seven years ago could have been what saved him.

"For many of us, it wasn't easy after Dwayne's death. I went through a really rough time along with others," he said.

"Going through Dwayne's death, my mental health spiralled... You're drinking with friends and reminiscing about what you could have done better. It was really hard.

"Dwayne's passing gave me two choices – do I take the same route Dwayne took, which wasn't an option, or do I help start something to make a life-lasting impact. It saved my life."

Sam says LIVIN developed an education program called LIVINWell, for schools and workplaces that focuses on early intervention, prevention, and breaking down the stigma around mental health.

"I look at my life growing up, and Dwayne's life, and think what might have helped change some of our thoughts could have been really basic mental health education around understanding the signs and symptoms, how to reach out and ask for help, and where to go if you are struggling”.

Using the mantra It Ain't Weak to Speak, LIVIN inspires people to speak up and have the courage to be vulnerable through education, merchandise and community.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

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