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After Tim’s friend Dan took his own life, Tim felt guilty for not being able to help him. Read how reaching out for help allowed Dan to see that he wasn’t a ‘terrible friend’.

This can help if:

  • you’ve lost a friend to suicide
  • you’ve been thinking about suicide
  • you’re scared to ask for help.
Man sitting on chair with hand on face

Suicide stole a friend of mine. And as clichéd as it sounds, suicide really did steal a piece of everyone who knew Dan.

I'm 20, and I'm sitting at a friend's funeral. I didn't think this would come for another 50 years. Ten days earlier, Dan and I had been chatting away, making plans to catch up. The next day, he took his own life. He didn't seem himself the weekend before he did it. I knew he wasn't happy, and we were worried. I asked him if he was thinking of hurting himself, but he said he was fine, so I assumed he was. I spoke to him the next day and he said he was great, and we organised to go to the football the next week.

The following day, driving to work, I heard there was an accident nearby and that someone had died, a suspected suicide. Something told me it was Dan, but denial took over. Friends of mine don't die, and they sure as hell don't suicide. I sent him text messages from work; no reply. I figured he was just busy.

I finished work, walked outside and my mum was there. That was odd. She'd been phoned, and had come to tell me and to drive me home. When she said, ‘It was Dan’, everything hit me: anger, frustration, guilt and shock.

Was I a terrible friend?

I didn't know what was going on. I had to give a statement to the police, something that scared me. I thought people would think I was a terrible friend for not speaking out when I suspected he might be thinking of doing something. I was mad at him for putting me in this situation. Why didn't he say something? I'd never faced anything like this, and for once, I didn't know if I could handle things on my own. I had a million things going on in my head and I really needed to get them out.

I'm not a big fan of deep and meaningful conversations, but I knew I had to talk to someone. I started to talk to a mate in Sydney. I stuttered my way through the story and about how I was feeling, but it was such a relief to get it all out of my head. I told everyone else that things were fine, and I hid my feelings behind laughter and a bubbly, ‘no worries’ exterior. I was still struggling, but things seemed so much easier with someone behind me who knew the story.

Things changed

Life went on, and I stopped talking about how I felt. Things were piling up on me big-time. It felt like a brick wall had fallen from the sky, blocking my way and I'd been given a toothpick to dig my way through. I'd never felt so overwhelmed. I'd had enough of the crap going on in my head. I just didn't care what happened. I wasn't crazy; I was just really sad.

Jump forward a couple of days. I'm sitting in a psychiatrist’s office. It’s my worst nightmare. He asks me, ’How are you feeling?’ The consultation seemed to drag on and on. He was my dad's age, and talked to me like I was ten. Needless to say, I wasn't keen to head back to his nicely decorated office.

Feeling positive

Strongly encouraged by my GP and a few awesome mates, I went and saw another psychologist. He was young, relaxed and seemed pretty cool compared to the last guy.

I walked out of the first consultation with him three months ago feeling positive, and I’ve been going back ever since. Some days are still tough, but they're not nearly as overwhelming as they were before. It was a tough lesson to learn, and in circumstances I don't wish on anyone, but I've learnt that reaching out really is one of the most important lessons anyone can learn. If only Dan had learnt it.

What can I do now?