Rhonda Winkler says her son Tim committed suicide in 2001 after being bullied at school.
Rhonda Winkler says her son Tim committed suicide in 2001 after being bullied at school. The Northern Star

More lives lost when bullying goes too far

RHONDA Winkler remembers the day her youngest son, Tim, committed suicide.

The year was 2001 and Tim, then 15, was a student at Kadina High School struggling with bullying by other students.

It was only after the coronial inquest into her son's death that she received papers detailing what was happening to Tim before he took his own life.

Mrs Winkler said the day before he hanged himself on the family farm at Clunes, Tim had gone to see the deputy principal of the school about the bullying he was experiencing, but was told to go and see the school counsellor who told him to make an appointment.

Mrs Winkler said she did not see her son's suicide coming.

"We had no idea at the time," she said.

"It was only when we got to talk to his friends after his death we found out he had been bullied at school, and that Tim had multiple visits to the school counsellor."

Mrs Winkler said she only knew the extent of Tim's problem when she received the report from the coronial inquiry.

"I know now he was depressed," Mrs Winkler said.

"He had no energy to do anything.

"After his death I got a book out of the library on teenage suicide and I realised I had no inkling he was suicidal.

"You just don't know."

Mrs Winkler said Timothy was happy on the night of his death, laughing as he watched an episode of Funniest Home Videos.

After it finished he said goodnight and went upstairs to bed.

Tim and his brother, Matthew, had a friendly wrestle and the pair parted to go to sleep in their own bedrooms.

It was only when Matthew wanted a return wrestle and went into Tim's bedroom and found him missing the horrible truth began to materialise.

Mystified at Tim's disappearance, the family members began searching the house and then the farm.

Mrs Winkler and Matt went down to the dam, one of Tim's favourite places, searching.

On returning to the house Rhonda passed by their caravan and heard her husband Allan sobbing inside.

Ms Winkler said she opened the door to see Tim hanging from a rope inside the van and Mr Winkler grief stricken.

Mr Winkler never recovered from his son's suicide, finally taking his own life two years later.

Mrs Winkler said something had to be done about bullying at school and said she wanted to help the family of Kadina High School student Alex Wildman, 14, who took his own life on July 25.

She said if telling Tim's story saved one young life, then everything would be worth it.

"We didn't do anything about it at the time because we were just too stressed," Mrs Winkler said.

Mrs Winkler said Tim was a quiet boy who helped other people.

"He was good at maths and agriculture," she said.

"He used to bring me home the vegetables he grew at school.

"He was always doing something for other people.

"Tim had a growth spurt just before he died and was six foot tall and many of his clothes didn't fit."

A report from the coronial inquiry described Tim as having feelings of inadequacies and not fitting in.

It also described Tim as telling school counsellors his feelings of alienation, and of how he and his friends were harassed by bullies at school, called names and spat at.

"We found this out from the coroner," Mrs Winkler said.


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