Grieving father's plea for community to bite back at black dog

RELATED CONTENT: In loving memory of Sam

LOVING FAMILY: Sam Fitzgibbon at his sister Sophie's wedding, with parents Jane and Michael, five weeks before he died.

LOVING FAMILY: Sam Fitzgibbon at his sister Sophie's wedding, with parents Jane and Michael, five weeks before he died.

THE rate of suicide is rising and the father of a young man who took his own life fears it will only get worse.

Sam Fitzgibbon’s family is still nursing broken hearts after the 21-year-old’s death in March last year.

His father, Mick Fitzgibbon, is deeply concerned about the worrying trend and hopes no other family has to endure what his has.

“To lose Sam – for us it was just the end of the world,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“Sammy was the best fella.”

New data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the rate of suicide per 100,000 people grew from 10.2 in 2006 to 12.6 in 2015.

This, sadly, comes as no surprise to Mr Fitzgibbon.

“Every day there are six young fellas like Sam (taking their lives),” he said.

The stigma surrounding mental health is one of the factors that contributes to suicide, Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“It’s so sad – the poor little bugger thought he couldn’t tell us.

“What we have to do as a community is get rid of that stigma.”

The number of males committing suicide is three times higher than that of males.

Shockingly, the research reveals suicide was the leading cause of death among all people aged 15 to 44 and the second leading cause of death among people aged 45-54.

Mr Fitzgibbon and his family launched the Let’s Talk initiative in a bid to remove the stigma surrounding mental health and to encourage people to seek help.

He said he believed some males were reluctant to talk about how they were feeling.

“Blokes will go and hide and they won’t say anything,” Mr Fizgibbon said.

“Sammy wouldn’t tell you much about himself at all.”

Mr Fitzgibbon said he believed the community had a responsibility to reverse the rising trend of suicide.

“I’ve no doubt we can reverse this,” he said.

Mr Fitzgibbon said he too was bitten by the black dog following his son’s death.

“When Sam died I was in a really bad way,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“I found myself down in the bottom of the pit and it was a terribly lonely, dark place.

“I can see how they feel and if you can’t speak up, you’re like a kettle – you’re bubbling until you blow up.”

Mr Fitzgibbon said the fast pace of life played a part in the high incidence of suicide.

“Life’s that quick that it tramples you,” he said.

“Don’t hide from it because you won’t beat it – the human mind can only take so much.”

If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 131 114.