Our Children Are Struggling: Seven Year Old's Heartbreaking Suicide Note
WARNING: This story contains discussion of suicide.
Kristy Sturgess’ world was shattered when she discovered her little boy had left a heartbreaking suicide note.
Jack was seven years old and was facing relentless -- sometimes physical --bullying at school.
“He had become a bit of a physical target for some children … physical bullying and pushing, tripping… within about a week it was unbearable for him,” Sturgess told The Project.
“That’s when he decided that he didn’t want to be here anymore.”
Jack left a note for his school teacher. At home, he covered his bedroom floor and pillow with the words: “I don’t want to be alive”.
“It was horrific. We were distraught,” Sturgess said.
“As parents, you just can’t fathom the fact your seven year old has got to that point where he can’t think of another way out.”
Primary school is supposed to be about learning, having fun and making friends, but there is a much more concerning reality.
Education experts warn students as young as five are grappling with mental illness and self-harm -- and school principals are struggling to respond.
Anne-Marie Kliman, President of the Victorian Principals Association, told The Project she is heartbroken by what she is hearing from principals around the country.
“We hear a number of stories pretty much weekly, if not daily, of children who are struggling with depression and anxiety… children indicating they want to harm themselves or take their lives,” she said.
It’s a “national tragedy” recognised by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who on Tuesday night announced almost half a billion dollars will be poured into pioneering a youth mental health and suicide project.
A total of $737 million will be steered towards mental health, with the bulk specifically delivering a youth mental health and suicide prevention strategy that will see new Headspace centres opened and a new suicide information initiative implemented.
Urgent action is needed.
“If we get in early, we may be able to de-escalate the problem before it’s too late,” Kliman said.
Sturgess said her and her son's story serves as a crucial reminder for parents to maintain open dialogue with their children.
“It’s making sure that you’re always talking to them after school, always asking them how their day was,” she said.
“There is support out there, there are people who you can talk to.”
Jack, now nine years old, manages anxiety and has turned his attention to drawing and art.
With the help of his mum, a clothing manufacturer, he has turned some of his favourite artworks into t-shirts to raise money for Kids Helpline.
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.
Featured image: Supplied