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Gladstone youth struggling with mental health

ATTEMPTED suicide, bullies, depression, self-harm, anxiety and family breakdowns.

Teenagers across the Gladstone region are living on the edge.

Speaking to The Observer this week, a group of young people revealed the pain and trauma they are experiencing.

One 12-year-old has lived through more pain than most of us will feel in a lifetime.

Emily (whose name has been changed to protect her identity) tried to take her own life and self-harmed after bullies drove her into a dark abyss.

"It wasn't so people would look at me and give me attention. I just didn't want the pain," she said of the self-harm.

"It was actually so I could get myself to not think about the pain."

One 13-year-old said she struggled to come to terms with the breakdown of her parents' marriage.

"I found it hard to talk to other people, because my parents had broken up and they all still had their dads around," the teenager said.

Beyondblue spokesperson Dr Brian Graetz said yesterday the trauma the region's young people are going through is reflected across the country.

Suicide is the leading cause of death of Australians aged 15-24.

"Negotiating the childhood through to adulthood is a very short period and during that period the social, emotional physical development is enormous," Dr Brian Graetz said.

He said one in five young people have a mental health problem and anxiety and depression were most prevalent.

"I started cutting for a little while back in term one, then I started cutting again last term because I didn't feel secure and I felt it would help me get away from the pain of everything," Emily said.

Coping with bullies and the desolation of losing her best friends when they moved interstate, the youngster saw no way out of the pain.

She tried to take her own life.

"They were my best friends and they told me everything, and I told them everything," she said.

"It was a really, really big shock to me."

Emily and her family spoke to The Observer in the hope it would help other Gladstone young people find light at the end of the tunnel.

Her mother and family learned of Emily's struggles through Facebook.

"It's been awful," said her father. "It's been a trip - what are we doing wrong here?

"What can we do to help her?"

They felt completely powerless, he said.

"I have a really good daughter," he said. "But kids don't have an instruction book."

The family removed all sharp objects from the house.

They fought and talked with her, hoping to end the child's downward spiral.

But nothing worked.

"We've done everything we can think of doing, and we don't know which way to turn," Emily's father said.

Eventually the family found a counsellor able to help.

"I've been able to talk to her about everything and it made me feel more confident," she said. "She made me realise that some people have been through much more than me, and they still go to school with a smile on their face and no cut marks on their arm."

If you need help contact Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 Lifeline 131 114 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636.

Topics:  depression, mental health, self harm, suicide, youth



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