Brother's suicide still haunts Alstonville man a decade on

MEMORIAL DAY: Tom Muir of Alstonville has organised a Suicide Memorial Day to be held in Ballina on Saturday. He will be remembering his brother Bob, who took his own life.
MEMORIAL DAY: Tom Muir of Alstonville has organised a Suicide Memorial Day to be held in Ballina on Saturday. He will be remembering his brother Bob, who took his own life. Doug Eaton

ALSTONVILLE'S Tom Muir still feels the pain of his brother's death.

When he first moved to the area from Newcastle 18 months ago, he was drawn to visit East Ballina cemetery and "broke down" remembering his brother Bob, from Minchinbury in Penrith, who took his own life in 2002.

Bob was aged 44 and left behind a wife and two daughters.

Support after Suicide Group

Tom says "he has come to terms with" his brother's death, but has "never got answers".

He said when the news first broke - he was told while in a staff meeting - his colleagues and friends didn't know how to talk about it.

"It becomes almost a shame. Everyone knows about it immediately, but then everyone goes quiet on you," he said.

After Bob's death, Tom said he felt guilt as he tried to understand why it happened, and he had false thinking that "somehow I was responsible".

"I was constantly questioning in my own head, why did it happen," he said.

Tom found solace in a group he attended at his church.

And that has inspired him to help others who have experienced the same kind of loss.

"I realise now I can't do anything to change what has happened, but I would like to play a part in others who have been through it to realise they are not alone," he said.

"I want to break the stigma and isolation around suicide bereavement."

Tom has organised a Suicide Memorial Day to be held at Missingham Park in Ballina during this Suicide Awareness Week, 3-4pm on Saturday.

There will be several guest speakers, local musician Dan Hannaford will perform an original piece, and during the service attendees can lay a flower in memory of someone who has died.

Suicide bereavement counsellors will be in the crowd to support those who need it.

Tom has received support for the event from the C3 Church in Ballina. He hopes to hold it annually.

At a glance

A Support after Suicide Group will be starting at Lifeline Northern Rivers on October 8 and will run for eight sessions through to the end of the year.

The group's aim is to help people bereaved by suicide to work through their grief, to manage emotions and to better cope with everyday life.

To register your interest in being part of this group, phone 6622 4133 or email aftersuicide.lifeline@lis.net.au.



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