Mornington mum encourages community to speak-up about suicide

Monday, 5 February 2018

Kate McLoughlin wishes she could grab her son, Zach, one more time, hug him, and tell him everything is going to be ok. z13 002

But that opportunity was taken away forever when Zach made an ‘impulsive decision’ to end his life when things, in his mind, seemed to be getting too tough. 

“He had racked up a few fines, lost his license, and he was having a particularly bad day that day and, for him, this was the solution to find his peace.”

As Kate’s voice begins to break, she says, “I know he didn’t want to die, but in those moments this was his way for the pain to be over. As a mother, I just wish I could have been there to tell him it was going to be ok, and that in the scheme of things these challenges were minor and fixable. But, Zach was spontaneous, so when his mind was made up, that’s it, he did it,” Kate says. 

Zach’s suicide came completely out-of-the-blue. He was the ‘teddy bear’ of the family, affectionate, vibrant and, by all accounts, loved life. He was training to be a builder and had hopes of working in Dubai.

He had lost two mates to suicide, and, Kate says, he was really angry at his mates for doing that. He also lost another mate to cancer, which spurred Kate to openly talk to Zach about death and suicide. 

“I thought we had it covered. We talked about it openly, and he seemed to have it all together. I never saw it coming,” Kate adds.

“When the Police told me, I remember running to the hallway, grabbing a photo of him and falling to the floor screaming. I gave him everything a mother could, lots of love and affection, I truly never saw it coming,” Kate said.

The silver-lining in all of this, she says, is sharing her story to prevent others losing their life, and the subsequent impact on families across not only her local community, but Australia.

Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula have some of the highest rates of suicide in the State.  

As part of a renewed approach to suicide prevention across Australia, and in 12 locations across Victoria, lived experience workshops are being held in Mornington to give a voice to those who have had first-hand experience with suicide. 

Kate was involved in the first workshop, and gained valuable skills to articulate her story so she can help others, and, as a result, she is helping to shape the way people view and tackle suicide in communities across the Mornington Peninsula.

Another lived experience workshop will be held in Mornington on February 15 and 16, and participant interest is currently open. The workshop will be delivered by Roses in the Ocean, a lead organisation in suicide prevention. Its aim is to equip those with lived experience of suicide the skills to be able to share their story to make a change in the way suicide is viewed and understood in the local community. 

Kate encourages those who have been suicidal or lost someone to suicide to come along to share their story. 

“We need to get as many stories out there as possible because it can happen to anybody, anyone can hit crisis point - this doesn’t discriminate. We need to take away the shame from anyone who is struggling, and just be kind to each other,” Kate adds. 

The South Eastern Primary Melbourne Primary Health Network (SEMPHN) has provided the funding to Roses in the Ocean to deliver the workshops, and is part of an overall approach to suicide prevention across Australia. 

South Eastern Primary Health Network works on behalf of the Australian Government to improve local healthcare. 

When: 15 and 16 February, 9am - 4.30pm

Where: Mornington 

If you are interested in participating in the workshop, call 1300 411 461. For more information, visit the event webpage.

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