Mother’s heartbreak becomes inspiration to help at-risk youth

“There were no signs, there were no symptoms. There had been no big argument or anything untoward that had happened.”

Those are the words from heartbroken mother Danielle Edwards, whose son Terry Scott, took his own life almost three years ago.

“He didn’t have this tumultuous upbringing, he had a good home life, he never wanted for anything,” Ms Edwards said.

“He could not have been any more loved.

“Even that morning I remember standing in the hallway and saying to him ‘you’re so bloody handsome’ and giving him a big kiss – and that’s the last time I told him I loved him and the last time he spoke to me, because after that, he was gone.”

On the morning of December 12, 2015, the 14-year-old ate breakfast with his family before telling them he was going for a walk.

He never came home.

The mother of five said her eldest son’s death had been difficult to reconcile because there had been no warning signs.

He could not have been any more loved.

Danielle Edwards

“My son was the first of the kids from the Mandurah area, the first boy that took his own life and then it kind of snowballed,” she said.

“Wherever I went I was hit in the face and hit hard by it – when I went to work, at home it was all over the media.

“The hardest thing is accepting that you have the grief and that the grief is there forever.”

But, almost three years on, Ms Edwards has turned her grief into motivation to help other Mandurah children, parents and carers experiencing suicidal thoughts or affected by suicide.

“I wouldn’t want another mum to go through what I do and what I live with every day,” she said.

“For me it was a case of having two choices – I could sit at home and cry which achieves absolutely nothing but already having four other sons, I had to hit this and run with it.

“This problem isn’t going away, it’s just getting worse so getting to help anyone else not be in the position that I’m in is the biggest drive for me.”

Read more:

Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians, with new statistics showing 51 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in WA in 2017.

For every suicide, another 20 people attempt to take their own lives.

In addition, one in four young Australians live with a mental health condition, with 75 per cent of mental illnesses first appearing in people under the age of 25.

For the past year, Ms Edwards has been an advocate for the youth suicide prevention cause, sharing her personal experience in several forums in support of the work of Youth Focus, including the Hawaiian Ride For Youth and Young Men's Project in Mandurah.

She is also a member of the recently formed Youth Focus Carer Reference Group to help support families and work on solutions to help prevent further tragedy.

The group, which comprises six WA parents including some who have lost children to suicide aims to help families navigate youth mental health challenges and provide practical and emotional support in the wake of a youth suicide.

I wouldn’t want another mum to go through what I do and what I live with every day.

Danielle Edwards.

“Working with Youth Focus has helped me a lot with my grieving and it gives me a platform to talk and start conversations,” Ms Edwards said.

“A lot of people still don’t want to talk about it but I’m very open and it’s not a subject that I’m frightened of – I’m comfortable talking to other people and other parents about it because it can be lonely to be the mum of a child that’s made this choice and you just want someone else to tell you that you’ll get through it.

“I want to normalise these conversations and tell [kids] that it’s okay to have thoughts and feelings and it’s okay to talk to about it and the biggest thing is letting kids out there know that there’s help available to them.”

And Ms Edwards’ hard work has recently been recognised.

The local nurse was presented the Community Award at the annual Youth Focus Make a Difference Awards night on November 14.

I went home and put the award next to my big photograph of Terry at home and I said to my husband ‘this has all been for him’.

Danielle Edwards

“I really didn’t expect to win and was quite surprised when I got it,” she said.

“I didn’t come into this to get an award, I came into it to help other kids because I’m so passionate about them but to get an award and be acknowledged for the work I’m doing, it was really cool.

“I was actually quite emotional but quite proud of myself.

“I went home and put the award next to my big photograph of Terry at home and I said to my husband ‘this has all been for him’.”

If you or someone you know needs urgent support please contact the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.