After a personal experience with suicide, Kathy Horton decided to pursue a career in the mental health profession.
After a personal experience with suicide, Kathy Horton decided to pursue a career in the mental health profession.

Devastating loss inspires life's work

By LEE McIVORlmcivor@gladstoneobserver.com.au

FOR Kathy Horton, Mental Health Week has a particular poignancy.

Kathy's younger brother suicided when he was 22-years-old, and it was his death that led her to take up a career in the mental health profession.

'My father had died 18 months prior to Tony taking his own life,' recalled Kathy.

'At the time Tony was suffering from major loss issues. He was unemployed, living at home and had just been through a messy break-up with his girlfriend.

'We all knew he was taking the break-up hard.

'And out of all us kids he probably took our father's death the hardest because he was living at home and shouldering the bulk of the our mother's grief.

'I remember I spoke with him on the Friday before he was to come to Gladstone to stay with us for a while and look for work.

'It was his birthday that weekend and I said to him to stay in Bundaberg for the day so he could spend time with his mates.

'He did stay but he hung himself on his birthday.'

'The death of Tony devastated our family.

'I grieved for Tony for two years.

'It was an extremely difficult time for me as I wasn't able to access my family easily because of distance as well as having a young family.

'It was especially difficult for my mother burying her son.

'I remember her saying it was different to burying our father because with Tony she buried part of herself as well.'

'This is one of the most difficult griefs to work through because of the feelings of helplessness and the massive guilt ? the constant questions of 'What if I had?' Why didn't I?'

Kathy said people should know they could get help and did not need to take their own life.

'Tony was not diagnosed as depressed and he showed no clinical signs of depression.

'I believe his suicide was an impulsive act, a plea to be assisted in his pain.'

Kathy said a positive outcome of her brother's death was that it helped mould her character and make her who she was today.



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