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In a small Australian town on June 12th 2001, my father, Myles Hilton Bean took his own life, aged 60. It was a decision I had no say in, but one which would alter me and the way I viewed the world forever. In the years that followed I encountered many social stigmas and outdated taboos associated with suicide. Whilst outwardly I functioned brilliantly, inwardly I was broken. I felt completely alone; haunted by emotions common in suicide bereavement — guilt, regret, anger, a sense of failure, shame, abandonment and utter confusion all hung in heavy layers over the expected feelings of grief and mourning.
Because I never spoke of what had happened, I prolonged my healing unnecessarily. Each year, 1 million people worldwide die by suicide — more than in war, terrorist activities and homicides — making it the tenth leading cause of death in the world. For every person that dies by suicide at least 20 more will attempt to do so, yet despite the high rate, little attention is paid to the phenomenon.
At least 90 percent of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric illness – such as depression, bipolar depression, or some other depressive illness. In many cases, it is a treatable, preventable tragedy. Although most suicides are caused by mental health problems, mental health-care allocations often comprise less than 2 per cent of national health budgets. Greater attention must be given to suicide prevention, such as increased funding for research, help lines and mental health facilities.
I will continue this work and by sharing my story and those of my fellow survivors, it is my hope that others will learn from our experiences, speak up about their own, and seek comfort and support in the knowledge that they are not alone. We are many. The silence, secrecy and stigma that surrounds suicide has to end and if my work prevents a single suicide or helps one survivor avoid the many mistakes I made, it will give some meaning to a loss that nine years later, I still struggle to make any sense.
*If you or somebody you know is in crisis call 1800-273-TALK (8255) [USA]
thank you Dad, for the love you gave me in your life and the purpose you have given me in your death..
1969. Australia. I am a traveler and the urge to roam and my love of photography are happy companions. A reformed corporate world entrepreneur I now spend my days pursuing and documenting stories that matter; preserving my own version of history (with a small ‘h’) for the curious few who follow. I’ve had the honor of learning from some of the world’s most inspiring and generous photographers and I count my blessings every day to have discovered my passion so early in life. Some never do.