I watched two episodes of the documentary Australian Story. One was Friday’s Child featuring Charmaine Dragun’s story which you can watch here. The other one was The Girl Least Likely featuring Hannah Modra’s story which you can watch here.
Charmaine Dragun was born in Perth and actually went to the same high school I went to, although I didn’t know her because she’s older than me and therefore didn’t go to the school at the same time that I did. She went on to become a popular news reader and many people in WA turned the TV on to watch her read the news in the evening. On our TV screens she’s a bright, charming and confident young woman. But behind the smiles she was actually suffering depression on anti depressants. As a teenager she also suffered from anorexia. Her family, friends and partner know that she had depression but they didn’t anticipate that she would end her life in this way.
Charmaine’s story has some similarities to Hannah’s in that they both had depression and both ended their life. But Hannah’s situation is a bit different. Hannah was only 17 when she commited suicide and she was in her final year of high school. Unlike Charmaine, no one knew about Hannah’s depression. She was someone who was did well at school, had great family and friends, participated in different activities and had a great personality. Someone who you’d think would not be very likely to be depressed and even less likely to end their life. Yet the opposite is true, she was depressed and she did end it. Which illustrates that yes, anyone can suffer from depression.
Part of what was stopping Hannah from coming out about her depression and what she was feeling was that she was afraid of being seen as weak and she was embarassed about feeling this way. Although we as a society have become more educated about depressive and mental illness, so much more still needs to be done. So that people are not afraid to admit that they’re depressed and they’re not afraid to go and seek help. If more people are willing to admit that they need help, maybe more lives could be saved. Maybe Hannah’s life could have been saved.
A quote from Hannah’s mother that reinforces this is, ‘I remember someone saying why do you tell people that Hannah took her life? Why didn’t you just say it was an accident or something? And it’s the very comment that makes me want to say what happened to Hannah. It because she had this fear and embarrassment that she didn’t share. So everybody that says we should keep this hidden or quiet actually is part of the reason why Hannah died.’
It was really sad watching both these documentaries. To see the familiy and friends’ pain of losing a loved one in this way. It was also difficult for me because I’ve been there. At that place, of being so depressed that I just want to end it all.
Watching the documentary though, we see that suicide is not really an end to the unhappiness. When you kill yourself, you leave even more unhappiness behind. It’s heartbreaking, seeing the sadness of all the loves ones Charmaine and Hannah left behind. You don’t the bigger picture when you’re that far gone into depression but suicide really does create more unhappiness when that’s the very thing you’re trying to kill.