On the south-eastern outskirts of Melbourne in the growth corridor cut through by the railway line there is alarm, fear and heartbreak. In suburbs like Dandenong the community is confronting this dark reality of suicide in their midst. The suicide of their youth. The deaths had, until recently, largely gone unreported - a disturbing number were death by train.
Professor Patrick McGorry (Youth Mental Health Expert) states:
"I have been talking about this phenomenon in Dandenong with colleagues and no ones knows about it. Its quite amazing that this many young people could be dying in a community and not being widely known. Its known in the local community - obviously there is tremendous anxiety in the local community about it but more widely - its covered up!".
Dee McIntyre's daughter Paige Rose took her own life soon after her 16th birthday. Upto her sixth grade Paige was a very easy-going girl but became more and more reserved in high school. Paige joined facebook in late 2009 (Oct 22) at a humble age of thirteen.
Paige was happy on her first day (Nov 21, 2011) at her new school (Berwick High School) but six months later she posted a comment on facebook showing her disgust for her new school. At age sixteen, for sometime now, her facebook chat was peppered with needy comments.
The warning sign for Dee MyIntyre was when Paige's reports started to change. But initially she believed that such a change was normal and that was "what teenagers do". But in February 2012, Dee saw the signs that Paige was self-harming. Such harming would continue and worsen.
On March 10th, Paige attempted suicide for the first time when she slipped away from her house to watch movies with her friends and after sometime of watching movies she stood up and left for the railway tracks. Her friends brought her back and reported her mother the following day. Dee eventually admitted her to Stepping Stones Adolescent Inpatient Unit.
Dee McIntyre stated:
"I was walking on the egg shells all the time. No one seemed to be able to give me help or answers so i felt like...uhh... No one else had any urgency so i felt that even though i feel anxious and so worried all the time - I kind of felt that no one is in panic and I didn't want to talk about it because I felt if I talk about it will increase the risk of her (Paige) wanting to do something."
Paige texted her grandmother (Carol Menzies) "love you" before committing suicide infront of the train. While breaking in tears, Paige's mother felt betrayed by her saying to herself : "How could she (Paige) do this to her? How could she leave without giving her one last hug?".
Paige's death struck hard in a community already effected with suicide among youth. Heads of various schools and universities throughout Australia are now understanding that suicide needs to be addressed. They also realize that if the suicide issue is not handled carefully it can have drastic impacts on vulnerable students and people who have lost someone.