Soundkeeper Gary: "Seven people I was friends with committed suicide over seven years"

Publish Date
Tuesday, 18 July 2017, 2:38PM

Warning: This article is about suicide and may be distressing for some readers. 

"In my last year of school while living in Australia I received a phone call from my ex who told one of my best friends had taken his own life.

It rocked the whole community; this was the back suburbs of Wellington, that kind of thing never happens around here!

But it did.

The area was filled with sadness, confusion and worst of all, gossip.

Being in another country at the time I was removed from it all and it felt surreal. None of us had any inkling that he was struggling with his life, and that’s the thing about it, you just never quite know.

In time, I’d look for signals we might have missed. I noticed in our group photos he was never in the middle. He was always on the far edges… maybe that was something we should have spotted? His image haunted those pictures from then on.

To this day I had vivid memories of that time. I’d see him in my dreams for months, and I can remember asking him in one of them “Hey bro, don’t mean to be rude but aren’t you gone?” He replied, “Nah I’m still here”.

It took a long time to come to terms with what happened, emotions came and went. There was grief and there was anger. How could he do this to his friends and family? How dare he give up like that and hurt so many people?!

Six months after it happened, all that emotion overcame me one day out of nowhere. I was riding the bus to school and I had to get off to collect myself.
A year went by and we all carried on with our lives and then another suicide happened.

and another,

and another,

and another,

and another,

and another.

Seven people I was friends with committed suicide over seven years.

Every time it had a lasting impact on the community. Families were devastated, branded with their loss. People would see them and it always came up in their mind. Friends were scarred, some friendships were forever bound by it, others were destroyed.

These seven people came from all different walks of life.

Some were star athletes; some were religious, they had different families, different economic situations and different ethnicities.

Thinking back, I’ve come to notice there was only one similarity between them, there was one thing they all had in common.

They didn’t show any signs that they were struggling.

You never know.

Personally, I’ve overcome these times and am in a happy place.

I don’t feel burdened by this shadow in my past and, due to being content with it, I initially thought I wouldn’t mention this.

But that’s exactly the reason I decided I should talk about it. There will be many who don’t think they deserve to talk about things like their sadness, struggle, depression or suicide. Maybe they think there’s no point or that others have got it worse so they have no right to speak up and be heard.

But you do. The challenges you go through are completely your own, it doesn’t matter what others have been through in comparison.

So talk to someone. Your friends and family will hear you and appreciate you more for it.

In closing, be honest with your feelings to everyone in your life, be open and treat them with kindness.

Because you never know…"

- Gary (AKA Soundkeeper Gary), 28 

WHERE TO GET HELP:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:

  • LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
  • SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
  • YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
  • NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
  • KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
  • WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
  • DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
  • SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666