Reflections of My Lived Experience


Silence and awkwardness
Fear and despair
Why does stigma sting the air?
Wishing that kindness and empathy could raise the bar
Uplifting those suffering and who they are
not labelled by their fight but remembered for who they be
They’re a person behind the label
Overlooked and you don’t see
 by Di White

Roses in the Ocean

my heart holds you

just one beat away

the tears in my soul

fall quietly every day


did this really happen

or are you just away?

will you walk through my door?

will you call me one day?


your pain was so intense

we shared more than most

the privilege of your love and trust

came at such an unbearable cost


stay close, watch over me

from so many stars apart

roses in the ocean…

you forever in my heart


my thoughts as I wake

through the day and when I sleep

are of you, my magnificent brother

for who my love runs deep


if there is one thing I could change

it would be that fateful time

I would be there for you, as always

holding on to you for life


somehow, some way

I wish with all my might

you find a way to tell me

you forgive, that you’re alright


stay close, watch over me

from so many stars apart

roses in the ocean…

you forever in my heart


Love from Brony November 2009

At the chalkface of suicide

I experience the extraordinary privilege of being an educator. Teachers care deeply for students. My expertise in senior secondary brings intensity, achievement, and loss. Saying good-bye is never easy.

Sometimes I witness precious potential bloom into mature adulthood through future happenstance. What joy!

Other times, I witness precious potential prematurely lost through death by suicide. What sorrow! What regret!

Forever young they remain in my broken strong heart; a heart also forged by lived experience of teen suicide as sibling and as mother.

My students’ passing, though diverse in timing (in school, post-school), gender and culture, all have in common well-intentioned risk averse schooling institutions’ struggling to cope with these “incidents”, as they are framed.

Once funeral rituals end, unintended consequences of policy and community practices render the bereaved silenced, ignored, and isolated.

In the workplace I feel expectations to pull myself together, wipe away stinging tears and to move on, fast. Any faltering is constructed as a performance issue – a failure of my leadership.

Free external workplace counselling is conflicted; generous yet avoidant. Impacts of lived experience of suicide are distanced, obscured, hushed. Kept outside.

The stiff upper lip of Anglo dominant culture prevails, reducing those lost and those grieving as the ‘forever forgotten’.

I mourn the loss of yet another student, a young Aboriginal woman.

My lamentations as an outsider are invited and welcomed by her Aboriginal community.

Here I encounter extraordinary generosity of spirit amongst extraordinary transgenerational and intergenerational sorrow.

Here, suicide is more frequent.

Here it is named.

Rituals emphasise ongoing connection.

Those eternally re-membered and eternally grieving, are honoured.

Here healing begins.


Roma A.