Jake was a son, a brother, a friend, a grandson, and an all-around beautiful boy.

He simply could not find his place in this world.

Jake took his own life after a long battle with depression. He was just 20 years old. He was one of the 3,139 people in Australia in 2020 who died by suicide. Of those 3,319, 2,384 were male.

Jake suicide and depression
Source: Supplied

The day he chose to leave this world was like any other day.

As Mel, Jake’s mum tells us,

The last time I saw him alive he was just normal. Nothing out of the ordinary and definitely nothing to make me suspect that day was my last day with him.”

It was a day like any other day. Until it wasn’t. 

Today. Not ‘One Day’ 

One year later she is sharing her son’s story in hopes of spreading awareness that you never know when the last goodbye is and people die suddenly and unexpectedly every day.

Everyone will have their last day with you and even you don’t know when this will be.”

Her hope is that people are encouraged to take risks, to follow their dreams, to tell the people who mean the world to them that they mean the world to them TODAY. Not one day. ONE day may never come.

Jake with his grandfather who also passed away unexpectedly five years prior to Jake. Source: Supplied

Minor problems started when Jake was just five years old. Nothing sinister. Mel and Jake’s dad had separated and he was having a few issues at school.

He started counselling and psychology services from prep and was in and out of therapy from there on. As he grew older after countless therapy sessions he decided that it wasn’t helping him and that he didn’t want to go anymore.” 

Jake was diagnosed with mental illness when he was 14.

We tried therapy, psychiatrists, mental health units, medication, hospital stays, even a trip alone to Thailand backpacking. We fought so hard for 6 years to keep him here. We tried everything. 

He quite often told me he didn’t want to be here anymore and then after a few bad days he would start smiling again and appear happy so I left it alone hoping with all that I had that his happiness would stay just that little bit longer.”

At 15, Jake left school and pursued working. He had a few good jobs but the last one he had at Toyota was his favourite by far.

I really thought that this job would be the one that made everything become easier for Jake, a great work place with people he enjoyed working with.”

Mel watched her son struggle from within and did everything she could to help him find his peace and happiness.

Most days were a battle for him. Some were good, some were bad and some were really bad.

As a single mum I had support from my Mum but found that I kept most of Jake’s battles from my friends as they just wouldn’t understand. I would get advice from people that didn’t even have children let alone ones with mental illness so I stopped telling anyone about Jake.” 

However, behind closed doors, it was a different story. Mel was close to Jake and she supported him as much as any mum could.

 He was very open with me, we had a close relationship and he barely kept anything from me. I knew that as his mum, I did everything I could have for Jake. 

He was such a beautiful boy. He had two sisters and a loving family, a safe environment and everything he could have wanted. He was SO loved and wanted.

But he fought with his mind everyday. Some days were good, some days were bad and some days were unbearable.” 

‘No parent should ever have to bury their child’

Through the sadness of losing Jake to suicide, Mel is finding strength in helping those who lose someone unexpectedly, whether to suicide or not.

She launched her My Afterlife Planner earlier this year – a journal that contains all the elements needed for the final arrangements but also a beautiful keepsake of memories loved and cherished.

Mel created My Afterlife Planner so family don’t need to guess all of the vital information if you were to pass suddenly or unexpectedly. Source: Supplied

If there’s one thing she hopes she can take away from her son’s death it’s to help break the stigma that suicide is being cowardly and selfish.

I want to tell Jake’s story on how brave he was to stay as long as he did and how much I knew it hurt him waking up in a world of pain every day.” 

In Australia, if you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.  For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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