Miles Liddell isn’t a name known to many. It doesn’t belong to a famous politician, a sporting champion or anyone of legendary status.
But it does belong to a young man who fell victim to one of the biggest killers thrust upon our nation.
Born the youngest of three children, Miles (in the words of his mother) was a dream child. But at 14 he turned to alcohol and marijuana.
“He got into a lot of trouble and made a lot of bad decisions that not only affected him but also affected us,” Miles’ mother, Jeanette Bath, said.
A stint in Cairns was meant to offer Miles the opportunity to turn his life around but instead he committed an armed robbery and the threat of prison loomed large.
“Thankfully Miles was given a suspended sentence but he had to stay in Cairns. So here he was at age 18 by himself and he was coping very well, so we thought,” Mrs Bath, of Weston, said.
“But he died in April 2010. He hung himself.
“Miles was very able to let you see and hear, always, what he wanted you to see and hear, so if someone was to ask me was he depressed, I would have said no. The last time I saw him there was no sign of it whatsoever.”
Mrs Bath said her son’s suicide note expressed remorse for his actions but was also laced with immense guilt.
“He was sorry for everything he put me through and that he was terribly guilty for all the pain and upset he had caused. But we had forgiven him every time. Obviously he couldn’t forgive himself.”
Since Miles’ death, Mrs Bath has sought solace from support groups in both Sydney and Maitland.
This week she will help facilitate such a group in Cessnock.
“Support groups are absolutely essential, without them I would be totally gaga because just being with people who have gone through this gives me the oomph to get through another day,” Mrs Bath said.
“There is help out there but suicide remains one of the biggest killers of young men in this country.
“Someone said to me the other day that there had been 17 suicides in three years in the Branxton area alone. That is such a horrific amount in such a small community.”
Two years on from losing Miles, Mrs Bath is living a life very different to the one she envisaged .
“Suicide shatters lives,” she said. “Our life, my life, changed that day and it will never be the same. We’re two years down the line now and the grief and the pain we feel is the same . . . that doesn’t change.
“We’re just learning to live our lives around it. The grief from a suicide stirs up a lot of questions like why didn’t I see, why didn’t he tell me and why couldn’t I help him. It makes you question everything about your life. Miles made the best decision for Miles at that time, he did not make the best decision for us. We will grieve for him every day for the rest of our lives and that’s just a terrible thing to carry.
“Everything in your life, every achievement, every sadness, Miles is always missing. And the fact that he chose to go is unbearable at times.”
HER GOAL: TO STOP OTHER FAMILIES FEELING THIS PAIN
Unwittingly Miles has given his mother a new purpose in life and it’s one she has embraced with dogged determination.
“I will not shut up about this. I will do and go and be anywhere I have to be to stop the pain,” Mrs Bath said. “There is still a terrible stigma attached to suicide but we have to get it out there. My purpose for the rest of my days is to try and stop at least one family experiencing the pain of this.
“If I can then my time on this earth has meant something. I know that Miles felt by taking his own life he was saving me pain and heartbreak but that’s not what he did. Suicide doesn’t just take the life of one person it takes the life of everyone that is left behind.”
■ The Cessnock Survivors of Suicide Support Group will meet on the first Tuesday of the month at 7pm at the Real Life Church, Cessnock. For more information phone Rose Hodges on 0407 001 525.
For more help phone Lifeline on 131114.