Mar 5, 2018

Tara Lal lost her dad to mental illness, her mum to cancer and her brother to suicide, while she was still only a child. She is the author of Standing on My Brother’s Shoulders – Making Peace with Grief and suicide; a memoir that tracks her journey through a childhood scarred by this trilogy of tragedies. The book tracks Tara’s subsequent struggle to make sense of her life and to find peace and meaning.

Today Tara is a full-time firefighter with Fire & Rescue NSW, a Mental Health First Aid instructor and has previously managed the psychological wellbeing program in Fire & Rescue NSW where she worked with researchers at the Black Dog Institute to develop programs aimed at building resilience and improving mental health outcomes in firefighters. She is a registered Physiotherapist and a speaker for the mental health charity Beyond Blue. She shares her life story through speaking and writing as a way to reduce stigma and build understanding and awareness of mental illness, grief and suicide whilst also offering hope to anyone facing adversity. Most recently Tara has embarked on a PhD at the University of New England focusing on the impact of cumulative exposure to suicide on Firefighters.

“Did you really want to die?” “No one commits suicide because they want to die.” “Then why do they do it?” “Because they want to stop the pain.”
Tiffanie DeBartoloHow to Kill a Rock Star 

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The following are 2 very real (and unedited) messages posted on Reddit, which will break your heart to read.

“I mean if someone wants to die shouldn’t they be allowed it? or by wanting to die make you mentally ill? so people don’t want to let you do it because you’re not of a sound mind?..

Anyway heres a little story, im bad at writing so sorry about that. in september of 2009 i was 16 and i tried going back to school, when i failed i tried to kill myself, came out of hospital less than a week i tried again. Which put me back in hospital and eventually a mental hospital (Irish so it might be different over here) for 5 weeks, and i lied and begged my way out. nothing in my life changed, i still stayed inside 24/7 on the internet or playing video games. Which led to self harm and other failed attempts, but only 2 weeks ago i tried again and they just sent me home (im 19 now). I believe i will never be able to go outside normally again, i have stayed at home for such long periods it is embarrassing to say. I left school at 13, and i tried going back to other schools and course program things… never worked out.

I just think i will never be normal, never amount to anything. I’m only happy when i am abusing something i.e myself, drugs and alcohol. I apparently have Aspergers syndrome, but that isnt an excuse for why im such a loser.

Sorry for the random rant, Don’t see any point to this post but i was wondering if anyone else has overcome something like this or is enduring it now?

Thanks for reading”.


I really shouldn’t say this and I don’t wish to trigger anyone, but I agree with you.

Why can’t it be, at least in theory, permissible for me to weigh up happiness in my life against suffering and decide that it isn’t worth continuing. Why can’t just opt-out of continued existence?

But, no. You mustn’t say or think this because…

  • It might trigger someone who is on the edge, and you simply HAVE to talk them down with whatever lies you can conjure, without letting slip how painful and difficult the remainder of their life is going to be having to live with depression.
  • You have to think about those who are left behind too. People who don’t understand what you are going through aren’t going to be very receptive to the idea of letting you go.
  • Its a ‘temporary’ problem that you want to fix with a ‘permanent’ solution. This is complete nonsense of course. Depression is actually something one lives with for life. You have to learn to manage it, but it will always be there. I think its actually quite hurtful to dismiss a suicidal person’s anguish as merely ‘temporary’.

This all sounds awful and bleak. Of course you should aim for happiness, and things can and will get better. And people DO love you, as much as it may not seem like it”.

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