By Pamela Nathan
Please note – this blog discusses suicide. If you, or anyone you know, needs help, please call Lifeline Crisis Support on 13 11 14.
A very special friend of CASSE, Aaron, sent us a sad, sad response to our last newsletter, but it was also tinged with hope – hope provided by a family that is providing unconditional love, care and support for others in their community. He shared a very personal story of suicide. He has given us permission to share his story with the CASSE community to mark Sorry Day…
Thank you for sharing this email with me. Suicide is deeply entrenched in our communities, we often hear of young ones who have threatened suicide, we ignore their cries thinking, they are just looking for attention, or are intoxicated and not talking normal. One young Aboriginal woman named ‘S’ threatened suicide about three weeks ago, some people said she is always doing that when she is drunk.
She was the mother of one child, a four and half year old boy named ‘MJ’. In the early hours of Saturday morning 14th May she ran from her mother-in-law’s house to a nearby school and hung herself. She was cut down by the police, they managed to revive her, when the ambulance came and transported her to Hospital. On Monday, I called the hospital ICU and asked to speak with a woman who was her foster mother, she told me that they were turning off the life support in 15 minutes. I told her to wait as I was taking little MJ up to the hospital to see his mother one last time. We got there in time and spent two hours with her. I was sure although she could not speak, or acknowledge her little boy’s presence in the room, I got little MJ to tell his mum that he loved her. I then whispered in her ear that I would do all I could to make her little boy grow up into a good young man.
Before we left her room, I put my hand on her cheek and said, “Hey S, remember that MJ always loves you, and he will be a good boy for you and grow into a good young man, we all love you and know you love MJ, God Bless You S!” and we left.
I have been a foster carer for little MJ since he was eleven months old. Because my partner Trish and I knew both his parents beforehand we accepted the role of Foster Carer for little MJ, and then became his full time Guardians.
Every Friday and Saturday, we took MJ around to his grandmother’s place and he spent two whole days with his parents. The last visit was that Friday before S hung herself.
I have cried my eyes out over thinking about little MJ’s life ahead without his mother who was very loving towards him despite the alcohol and marijuana addictions.
Suicide has impacted many people on many levels, and as MJ’s carers it deeply affected Trisha and I.
– Aaron Paterson
Today is Sorry Day.
The first Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998—exactly one year after the Bringing Them Home Report was presented to Parliament – to acknowledge and remember the pain of the ‘stolen generation’.
Sorry Day is a day when all Australians can mourn together for past wrongs.
Sorry Day is a day to share, acknowledge and work together to heal the trauma and pain that Aboriginal people have endured since white settlement.
It is not past history.
It is a history that every community knows and carries as an oppressive weight.
It is the forced removal of children.
It is the forced ‘assimilation’ into western culture
It is the denial of culture, of language, of country, of being.
Today – Sorry Day – we must listen to these stories, so that we can move forward as a nation towards true understanding and reconciliation. Tomorrow marks the beginning of National Reconciliation Week.
Image – The Awesome Foursome! Aaron, Trisha and their two beautiful foster children.
The Northern Territory's numbers in youth detention are soaring - ABC News. As more Aboriginal youth enter detention, CASSE’s cultural healing camp at Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre is an essential program that brings culture and Country into custody. pic.twitter.com/mWxZIPyRXl