No snappy title – just a plea to reach out to those who are hurting.

This is a particularly tough blogpost to write today.

Yesterday, I found a neighbour who had committed suicide.

We had wondered why we hadn’t seen “Janet” (not her real name) for a few days and I, like other neighbours, had knocked on her door without response – but none of us had gone into her back yard, which is where she had taken her life.

Until yesterday, when a tradesman and I discovered her body.

Janet was one of those people who was sometimes difficult to deal with.

She was always helping out, mowing lawns and gardening, mulching trees and giving away her art-works.

But Janet also had a prickly personality – and she could cut you off for perceived slights without notice.

Unfortunately, that meant that when Janet needed her community most, she didn’t get the support she needed.

I don’t blame myself, per se – but I can’t help but wonder what I might have done differently.

After all, I knew that Janet was badly depressed (I had, in fact, driven her to a 24 hour pharmacy earlier this month to get a script filled for anti-depression meds).

And I knew that she was not eating or sleeping properly.

I didn’t want to intrude. But maybe I should have.

This time of year is not particularly happy for those whose family history is unpleasant – and that doesn’t even factor in the isolation of Covid lockdowns.

The scientific research suggests there has NOT been a specific, Covid-related increase in suicide rates (or at least not here in our home state of Queensland) – but I know that in Janet’s case, she had lost contact with her fellow social-worker students and teachers at uni. I know that she missed that interaction.

As I said at the beginning, this is a tough blogpost to write.

There are no easy answers.

But there are places to look, to see what we can do for those we know who may be suffering.

One is Beyond Blue’s Coronavirus page. Another is Reachout – which deals specifically with helping young people.

It’s too late for me to do anything for Janet (except to take ownership of her birds, and arrange for the care of her cats.)

But it is not too late for you to look around and see if members of your community need a helping hand.

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