My nephew died on Sunday night.
He died by suicide.
Logan was the most energetic and delightful kid I know. Kind. Fun. Laughing all the time. My kids – his cousins – loved hanging out with Logan, and as his Uncle, I did too. We surfed together at Kirra last year when the surf was as good as it gets; well overhead and absolutely pumping. Surfing was his thing... so much so that he was close to pro.
Logan was staying at my parents house the night he took his life. My mum and dad – his Nan and Pop – found him on Monday morning.
Too late to help.
Too late to do anything except scream "No".
Too late for him to hear them as they cried his name over and over again: "Logan! Logan! Logan! Logan!" "No, no, no, no, no!!!!"
How do you hold the body of your grandson for the last time? That was what my parents did on Monday morning.
How do you call your daughter, still celebrating a special weekend with her husband in Melbourne, and tell her that she needs to come home because her son - only 20 years old - has died? That was also what my parents did on Monday morning.
And the ripple effect... as each new person discovers the awful truth. Logan is dead? How? Suicide? No! Not Logan! How can that be? He was so happy. No! Please no.
Logan left a note. But the note won't bring peace or relief to anyone... Because he's dead.
I’m not doing so well. My heart is shattered. Shattered for Logan. But also for his parents and siblings, and for my parents. I don't want sympathy here though. That's not what this post is for.
Here's what I want you to know:
There are 9 suicides every single day in Australia. Seven of those nine suicides each day are men. Two of those nine are women. And suicide is the leading cause of death among young people (15-24 years). 36% of deaths in this age group are suicides.
Suicide is a complex issue and rarely is there just one factor that leads to someone taking their own life. But here's what we do know:
Strong social connections *reduce* the chance of suicide.
Please, please, please, PLEASE be kind. Be compassionate. Be gentle. Be inclusive. Be supportive. Be less critical and judgmental and more of a cheerleader. Don't be on your kid's back (or your partner/spouses back). Instead, make sure you've got their back. Love them and make sure they know it. They have to know they matter.
One more thing...
Almost without exception, those I've told have responded with shock and pain, and then offered the well-intentioned phrase, "I have no words."
The idea that "there are no words" needs to be changed. Now. Fast.
Last week, before this awful news, I spoke with Colin Campbell, author of "Finding the Words" for the Happy Families Podcast. He wrote his book about grief after his two teenagers died in a car crash. Please listen to it. It will change your life. It drops on Wednesday.
Colin makes the point that when we say "there are no words" we are, in some sense, reducing the person's life to nothing. We have to find the words, because the words we find tell the stories of those we love. And those stories help us to celebrate their life and our love for them.
Share their stories. Feel their pain. Elevate their experience. Find. The. Words. They're there. And we need to share them.
As I sat at my table and sobbed, I got a call from a friend. Gus Worland. I'd messaged and he came through for me.
If you don't know Gus, he's the guy behind the ABC series, Man Up. And he's got a charity called Gotcha4Life. At his site you can sign up for a Mental Fitness Plan. I recommend it. It's smart. It's helpful. It's a life-saver.
After I spoke with Gus, I spoke with my brother, and then two of my sisters. I spoke with my mum. Then dad. Then my mate, Craig. Then another mate, Alex. Last night I spent time talking with Aaron and Julia who thoughtfully provided our family with dinner (which was helpful, but not nearly as helpful as the hour long conversation we had when they dropped the meal off - and stayed to listen to us in our grief). And in between all of those conversations I talked with my wife, Kylie and our kids.
Conversations. Words. Opening up. Crying. Laughing. Bawling. Sharing. Story-telling. Celebrating. Mourning. Grieving. Living.
Everyone needs someone to talk to. Everyone needs to know they matter. Everyone needs to feel seen, heard, and valued.
My final point is simple. If you are struggling, or a loved one is struggling, talk to someone. A relative. A friend. Call Lifeline. Get in touch with Beyond Blue, Gotcha4Life, or the Movember foundation (because, yep... Logan died in a month dedicated to men's mental health: Movember). Talk with a local church leader, a trusted neighbour, someone. Reach out. Tell people they matter.
I miss Logan.
Please hug your kids. Hug your husband/wife/spouse/partner. And share this message and this love with everyone who needs to know how much they matter.
- Lifeline: 13 11 14
- Suicide Callback Service: 1300 659 467
- Mensline Australia: 1300 789 987
- Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800