“One afternoon I came home from school to find mum in bed. She’d been drinking and had burnt her wrist. She said that’s how much pain dad and I had cause her. Mum would isolate and stonewall. There were days when they didn’t speak at all - and she wouldn’t even talk to me. If I’d had a choice, I would have rather lived with my father. I was daddy’s little girl; I’ve never been close to my mother. We haven’t spoken in several years. I was made to feel guilt and shame for loving my father. There was a period when I didn’t see him. On Monday the divorce was finalised. Dad was served with the papers. I lost my father to suicide when I was 14. It’s over 30 years since I lost him and I miss him terribly.”
Alison is a daughter in her 40's living in NSW. This is her story in her words. Alterations have been made solely to preserve confidentiality.
“I lost my father to suicide when I was 14. It’s over 30 years since I lost him and I miss him terribly.
Talking to my uncle recently, I found out my father made two previous attempts before he took his own life.
My father was always the fun, social guy. He loved entertaining, dancing and singing. He was always cheery, smiley and whistled all the time.
I was born on a British military camp in Germany; my dad was in the army. He left service when I was 9 months old and we moved back to England.
My uncle says my father was a different person after he left the army. His drinking became a problem and he didn’t talk about what he’d experienced.
He was one of five brothers, one of whom was living in Australia. We moved here in the hope of a better life when I was nine.
I hated it and found it hard to adjust to a new life. I was bullied at school because of my accent.
When we’d been here for two years my parents asked what I wanted for Christmas. I said I wanted to go back to England. So, that Christmas, I went back and saw all my extended family and cousins who I’d been close to.
It was that Christmas when dad found out his mother was dying of lung cancer.
As a child, my dad had lung problems; my grandma knew he would struggle after she passed. The last thing she said to me was, ‘look after your father’.
I think my father told my mother that if they moved to Australia she wouldn’t have to work; she could stay at home and have another baby.
It wasn’t to be.
When I was in year 5, he was working a second job. He’d come off a shift and start drinking.
My dad introduced my mother to a male friend who he was working with at night. Mum would look after his kids too.
Dad later found out mum was having an affair with him.
Then dad really struggled.
My grandma had died at this point and he didn’t cope.
My uncle says that my dad had high highs and low lows.
On a Friday, when he’d been paid, he’d shout everyone beers in the pub. He was happy go lucky when he was up.
There was lots of arguing at home before mum and I left.
One afternoon I came home from school to find mum in bed. She’d been drinking and had burnt her wrist. She said that’s how much pain dad and I had cause her.
Mum would isolate and stonewall.
There were days when they didn’t speak at all - and she wouldn’t even talk to me.
If I’d had a choice, I would have rather lived with my father.
I was daddy’s little girl; I’ve never been close to my mother. We haven’t spoken in several years.
I was made to feel guilt and shame for loving my father.
There was a period when I didn’t see him and I knew he wouldn’t cope well without me.
Sometimes when he’d come to pick me up on a Friday, I’d smell alcohol on his breath. That made me uneasy.
Sometimes he’d get aggressive when he drank.
Once, my uncle found him on the edge of a cliff.
When I was 14, weekends became about spending time with my friends. I would sometimes go weeks without seeing him.
The last time I saw my dad alive was at a wedding. He was meant to drop me home to my mum’s afterwards but had too much to drink. I was sleeping at my dad’s when my mum and step dad arrived banging on the door and dragged me out.
On Monday the divorce was finalised. Dad was served with the papers.
We got a phone call at home to say he was in hospital.
He was conscious when he arrived at hospital. He wasn’t conscious when I arrived to visit him and had all kinds of tubes and machines breathing for him.
When we got home we received a phone call to say he’d passed.
My mum never spoke about it.
I’ve never had any affection from my mum; I got that from my dad.
If I ever did anything wrong she would say, ‘you’re just like your father’.
She made me go to see a counsellor. I told the whole painful story. The following week there was a different counsellor who made me tell the story again.
It was horrible and too painful.
I didn’t go back.
Nine months ago I started having therapy myself because my daughter, who was 16 at the time, was self-harming.
She’s had different types of alternative therapy and equine therapy which have helped.
Her therapist said to me, ‘I need to see you now.’ So, I’ve had therapy too. She diagnosed me with PTSD from all the trauma I’ve experienced.
I have a son too.
It’s really important for boys and men to have a person they look up to and have a meaningful relationship with, someone they don’t just talk about sport with.
I’m now work to help reduce suicide and I share my story as someone with lived experience. I want my life experience to help others.”