18/03/1967 – 29/04/2002
Aged 35 years.
Where to start, where to begin–My son, my stepson, Darren, took his life 13 months ago. The story ends there but starts many years earlier.
Darren was born 18 March 1967 and grew up with his father and brother, Randy. After some upheavals in his earlier life, I came to the family 27 years ago and married Darren’s father Ken twenty-five and a half years ago. I helped raise Darren from age ten and throughout his teenage years and into adulthood.
Darren was not a great scholar and left school in year 10 to enter the work force. He enjoyed being in the Naval Cadets and his greatest passion was BMX bicycle riding. Even when Darren passed away he still had a BMX bike. We believe that Darren had his first episode of Schizophrenia at the age of 16, but it was many years and many hospital visits later, both here and in Adelaide, that he was finally diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia. That was 12 years before he died–
Darren abused illicit drugs including Marijuana and many others; he even abused the medication he had for his mental illness. Darren began to realise that he needed his medication even though he hated taking it–he also hated going to hospital to get the balance of his medication right. As with most sufferers of mental illness once they leave hospital they believe they are better so they don’t continue to take their medication. Darren was no different and because of this the vicious circle of hospitalisation and trips home began–.
Five years before Darren died he moved toAdelaide, where, after several visits to hospital he found that with the support of a group called Metro Access, he was able to move from supported accommodation – where everything was done for him, to living independently in his own unit.
The Mental Health Nurse visited daily to make sure Darren was taking his medication and once or twice a week the social worker would help Darren with organising his household chores, shopping and anything else Darren wanted to do.
With the support of these wonderful people in Adelaide to whom we are very grateful, we were given five more years with Darren. Even though Darren had the support of these professional people, they didn’t see his intention to take his own life. They were as devastated as we have been–.
Through all the years of Darren’s illness and hospitalisation, he knew in his heart that he had the support and love of all his family. His mother and father, his step parents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles and the rest of his family.
On the 29 April 2002, close to midnight, Darren took his own life. He died alone. He was 35 years old–
I will read a poem that Darren had written which shows to us why he died:
Don’t think that I can’t feel,
There will be a storm tonight,
But we will be safe,
Just don’t close the door for that chapter will be over,
Just say what’s on your mind,
Just think about what you do,
Just don’t close the door or it will be over.
With Darren’s mental illness he lived in two worlds, our real and rational world, and the world in his mind created by the Schizophrenia.
By closing the door to his unit he closed the chapter on the world we know and went to the world in his mind– We hold on to the fact that Darren is now happy and not living a tormented life anymore–