A conversation can save a life
03 / 12 / 2019
Following the death of her brother by suicide last year, RAAF Airwoman Bethanie O’Brien struggled to cope and experienced suicidal thoughts and depression.
“I was in a low and dark place following the death of my brother,” explains Bethanie. “I had reached a point where I felt I could not go on and I was planning to take my own life. I had breakfast with my sister in law and in my head, I was saying my goodbyes to her. I went home and after several hours of crying and working out what to do, I realised that suicide was not an option. I decided to reach out randomly on Facebook, asking if anyone was free. I received a response from a colleague and the conversation that followed saved my life. I just needed something to take my mind off where I was - that conversation saved me.
“I felt stupid reaching out on Facebook, I was worried people would think I was just seeking attention. I now know that it doesn’t matter about what other people think, being alive is more important.
“You never really know what is going on in someone’s mind and if you have the slightest suspicion, reach out to them and check-in. Similarly, if you are feeling low, try to reach out to someone you trust; it can be a life-saving and life-changing decision.
“This time of the year can be really tough for people, whether they are in defence or civilian life. I know it is hard to check in with people, it can be scary and challenging, especially if the person says they are not doing so well. I think the Check Your Mates campaign is very powerful in that it not only encourages people to reach out, it also takes it one step further - to keep in contact, have a chat and connect.”
“Trust me, I know it’s hard to reach out.
I’ve been there and I know that reaching out can save lives.”
The Check Your Mates campaign is an outcome of the Operation Compass project - the ex-ADF and Families Suicide Prevention Project, based in Townsville. Operation Compass is one of 12 National Suicide Prevention trial sites funded by the Commonwealth Government. It is the only project focused exclusively on veterans of the ADF and their families. The project is coordinated through the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network.
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