Symes shares suicide pain

03 Jun 2016 Shepparton News, Shepparton VIC (General News) by Emily Woods MP USES FORUM IN HOMETOWN BENALLA TO URGE PEOPLE TO TALK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES State Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes has revealed her experiences with suicide, after two men close to her took their own lives. The first funeral I ever went to was when I was 17, Ms Symes told a Benalla mental health forum on Wednesday night. He was a boy I knew, a couple of years older than me, just out of school, he was super-cute, I had a crush on him and wed pashed once. It was so confusing and devastating to learn that he had taken his own life. The Benalla-born MP said she had never spoken in detail about her own experiences, but had come to the realisation that we can do good by talking about these difficult and painful subjects. I am both pleased and encouraged to see the number of people in the public eye coming forward to openly discuss their mental health issues, Ms Symes said. It can be very dangerous to treat mental health or suicide as a private matter, if you leave these discussions behind closed doors they end up being out of sight and out of mind and by default endured rather than prevented. Ms Symes discussed the death of her uncle, who she said at age 34 moved interstate suddenly, leaving his wife and two children behind. It was only after his death a few weeks later that it became apparent that he was suffering from a severe mental illness, she said. He had sought help, but after waiting several hours in a hospital emergency department unseen by a doctor he walked out he was found the next day by police. Ms Symes questioned whether her uncle, or her 17-year-old friend, would still be alive if there was somewhere for them to go, without judgement, and seek help. Suicide is undeniably devastating at any time, but when it occurs in a country town the effects are profound and the whole community is impacted, she said. If you dont know them directly you know someone who does and you inevitably hear the details and the distress of the family. It is unbelievably heartbreaking for me that Benalla has experienced several tragic events in recent years, and particularly 2016. Ultimately, we want a system where locals know what to do if they or someone they know is feeling down and where there is no stigma around reaching out. If you are affected by any of the issues in this story, please phone Lifeline on 131 114 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. Caption Text: Personal stories: State Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes gave an impassioned speech at a Benalla mental health forum on Wednesday night.