News

Years of horror lead news photographer to breakdown

Former media photographer Rhodes Watson reflects on the trauma that led to him having a breakdown.
Former media photographer Rhodes Watson reflects on the trauma that led to him having a breakdown. Chris Ison

CONTROLLING his emotions was how Rhodes Watson coped with the endless visions of death and suicide.

Working as an APN photographer for more than a decade in regional areas, Mr Watson saw more than his fair share of suicides around Central Queensland.

During his functioning years as a photographer, Mr Watson experienced horror, sadness and shock and eventually got to the point where he experienced a severe breakdown from post traumatic stress.

"I'm rarely able to take photos these days," Mr Watson said.

Living in a small town it was easy to get to know a lot of people.

"It got to the point that every time I went to an incident, a car accident or whatever, there was someone there I knew," Mr Watson said.

"In the period of 10 to 15 years, I photographed 28 friends, people who I knew who died."

Mr Watson still finds it difficult to remember the loss of locals or loved ones who lived in his town.

"One incident I remember was where a lady tried to kill herself by running into a truck," he said.

"I didn't know the lady but the truck driver was a family friend.

"It was the people who tried to do the suicide thing - that hurt someone by doing it."

Story after story, Mr Watson relays many dramatic instances that led to his breakdown.

"I remember one time a man put a rope around his throat and drove off with the rope attached to a tree," he said. "He decapitated himself.

"I didn't know the man, but it was a situation I went to."

Finally it got to the stage where Mr Watson was off work for 20 months.

The saddest day I'll ever remember was sitting in the corner of my lounge room, rocking backwards and forwards, crying.

"My three-year-old looked me in the eyes and said, 'Mummy, can I play with daddy today?'

"My wife replied, 'Leave daddy alone - he's sick today'."

The post-traumatic stress that Mr Watson experienced from seeing numerous suicides and deaths caused him to plunge into a depressed state himself.

"You'd be totally out-of-control," he said. "My wife would hold me like I was a baby."

When asked if he was ever suicidal, Mr Watson replied with uncertainty.

"My problem is I don't remember a lot of instances. I had a huge breakdown."

The seriousness of suicide struck Mr Watson at the core and he said he honestly believed it was more of an issue in regional areas.

"Having a family that's close to you makes a lot of difference," he said. "That's your support."

Whether contemplating suicide yourself or having lost a loved one to suicide, Mr Watson said it was important to find someone to talk to.

"It's knowing who you can sit down to talk to with," he said.

"It's hard to find someone to sit there and listen to you without taking on your problems.

"I've got friends who have become policemen and ambulance officers and if ever there is counselling offered I'd say take it."

Now, five years later and as the co-founder of WattElse, Mr Watson is committed to helping people the best way he knows how.

"Now, whenever I get down, I think of my life as a tree," he said. "All the branches reach to the top and there are many different ways to get there."

Topics:  central queensland gladstone suicide suicide prevention



How to survive a bushfire in your car

IT SOUNDS like a nightmare, but it can happen.

Eight reasons to join the RFS

SPREAD across 93% of Queensland, the Rural Fire Service has about 36,000 volunteers. And you could be one of them.

What if my insurer gives me grief?

CLAIMING your insurance cover after a natural disaster can go one of two ways. It can be a breeze, or like pulling teeth.

Locals flock for a feed at Gladstone's new Schnitz eatery

Schnitz Gladstone head trainer Holly Smith and store manager Chris Allen.

SCHNITZ has done a roaring trade on its first day in Gladstone.

BREAKING: Fire crews rush to Glen Eden fire

Fire crews are working to control a blaze at Glen Eden.

Fire crews work to control a grass fire at Glen Eden.

OPENING SOON: Burgers and beers at Gladstone's latest restaurant

GETTING THE URGE: Gladstone store and operational managers Chase Williams and Justin Charell gearing up ahead of opening.

Gourmet burger restaurant to open at Stocklands

Local Partners

Brad Pitt bids to keep custody battle private

Brad Pitt will go to court to keep his custody battle private

Sia has split from her husband

Sia has split from her husband Erik Anders Lang.

Amy Schumer thanks Barbie trolls for hateful comments

Amy Schumer is in the lead role for the new Barbie movie

Shannen Doherty's husband is suing for destroyed sex life

Shannen Doherty's husband is suing her former manager

Azealia Banks' battery case against Russell Crowe dropped

Russell Crowe will not be charged with battery

Mel Gibson named Best Director at AACTA Awards

Mel Gibson poses in the media room after winning the AACTA Award for Best Direction for Hacksaw Ridge.

HIS wartime drama Hacksaw Ridge sweeps 6th annual awards in Sydney.

Ipswich City Properties asset portfolio retains its value

Ipswich City Council Administration Building, South Street, Ipswich. Photo: Claudia Baxter / The Queensland Times

New website launched by Ipswich City Council

High profile premier invests in Gladstone industrial facility

Former Queensland premier Campbell Newman heads a group that bought the UGL warehouses in Paget for $10 million.

FORMER PREMIER heads group that's backing Gladstone to bounce back.

INSIDE STORY: The highlights of your $150 million CBD

GRAND PLAN: The highlights of the Ipswich CBD redevelopment and where they will be located.

Work on city heart's radical transformation to begin next year

VOTE IN OUR POLL: Sand mine opponents face serious dilemma

Public meeting for the proposed sand mine at Maroochydore last week.

Coast MP calls on Minister to stop KRA proposal with stroke of a pen

Developer's grand new multi-million dollar estate

NEW ESTATE: This is the only plan revealed by the property developer's new Billabongs Estate in Agnes Water.

DEVELOPER given the go ahead for a massive estate with 149 homes.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!