News

Pain of son’s suicide will never leave

HINDSIGHT: Beth Ellis remembers her son Robert, who died 25 years ago. She says the loss has been devastating to her family. Photo: Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner
HINDSIGHT: Beth Ellis remembers her son Robert, who died 25 years ago. She says the loss has been devastating to her family. Photo: Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner Debrah Novak

EIGHTEEN-year-old Robert Ellis was popular at school, good looking, and bright.

He was the second child of four and was well known in the community for his sporting achievements, having played first-grade cricket as well as footy with the Grafton Ghosts.

The year was 1989 and Robert was a cadet in mechanical engineering, but unknown to many, he was also suffering from undiagnosed depression.

At the time no-one could have known Robert was secretly planning to kill himself, least of all his mum Beth Ellis.

Looking back on the weeks leading up to his death, Beth said she could see something was bothering Robert, but when she talked to him about visiting a GP because he seemed 'down', he brushed her concerns aside. "I'm ok, I'll take care of it," Robert said.

On September 12, 1989, not long after 3pm, Robert locked himself in the family's shed. When his father came home to find him, it was already too late.

Twenty five years later, Beth says looking back there were other signs things weren't right with Robert. He had recently broken up with his girlfriend, left his job and was giving away his possessions.

"We can see it all in hindsight, but at the time we couldn't ever have thought," said Beth.

"He had it all; what people need to realise is that depression and suicide can affect anyone - look at Robin Williams, he was smart and funny - it doesn't discriminate.

"My belief is that you don't wake up of a morning and decide kill yourself; you have to be depressed, and if you're depressed, you have to seek treatment.

"There is help out there, but if you don't seek treatment, you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel - it's black."

Beth said in the weeks following her son's death, she found it hard to cry and wondered if there was something wrong with her.

"But when the crying started, I couldn't stop. I was really angry too, but I did my best not to be angry in front of the other children," she said.

At the advice of her GP, Beth attended regular counselling with a psychologist for the next 12 months.

"It's probably the only thing that kept me going," she said.

"If there's one thing I want to impress upon people is that you've got to go on."

Being a registered nurse, Beth said she was lucky to have the support of her colleagues who listened and gave her time.

But friends and family can back away, not knowing what to say.

"Sometimes all they need to do is give a hug and maybe ask what they can do to help," she said.

While mental health services have improved over the past two decades, Beth says there is still an urgent need for more funding in the area of mental health services, including early assessment and interven

tion.

"We still haven't got enough mental health services in the area for families. People shouldn't be told, we'll put you on the list - they need to see someone straight away."

For 24-hour crisis support phone 13 11 14, or visit http://www.lifeline.org.au/crisischat (8pm-4am AEST).

Topics:  grafton, grief, suicide



Young girl with big plans in the surf

SURF'S UP: Maclean grommet Lilli Young is ready to show what she's got at the Hurley BL's Blast Off junior competition in Sydney.

Lilli Young could be a name worth storing in the memory bank

Swap meet and vintage car display at Maclean, Sunday

Greg Dennis at the Grafton Vintage Car Club Show and Shine in South Grafton earlier this year. The club has swap meet and display at Maclean Showground on Sunday.

Swap meet and car display at Maclean on Sunday.

Preparing your pets in case of an emergency

Tips to increase the likelihood of evacuating your pets to safety.

Local Partners

Airbourne talk drop bears, beer and taxes

Airbourne have a new album coming out and a new tour on the way.  Photo Contributed

Airbourne release album for the aussie battler

Pippa Middleton had 3000 private photos stolen

Author Pippa Middleton

Author's account hacked to access 3000 private photos

Gruen star discovers the body's limits in new hit TV show

Todd Sampson tries out MMA fighting during TV series BodyHack.

Gruen star pushes the limits in new TV series

Deftones return to Australia with string of dates

Deftones are back in town. Photo Contributed

World renowned nu-metal pioneers return

How the Gruen guy's t-shirts took on a life of their own

Documentary filmmaker and Gruen panellist Todd Sampson.

What started out as simple workwear has become a trademark

Disney pulls costume for cultural appropriation

Disney has taken a costume off shelves out of respect for Islanders

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record

NEW HOME: Agents to the rescue for family of nine

RELIEF: Tanya Cone (middle) with her kids and McKimm's Real Estate property managers Regan Firth and Nadine Greenhalgh who helped find her family a home.

DEX article prompts property managers to help family find new home

SOLD: Historic hotel finds new owner

Post Office Hotel Grafton

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Pub in new hands and heading in a brand new direction

Peppers Airlie Beach put on the market

ON THE MARKET: Peppers Airlie Beach is being for recievership sale by CBRE Hotels and PRD Nationwide Airlie Beach.

Peppers Airlie Beach is being offered for sale.