Marcus lost his dad at a young age, now he’s urging people to open up about mental health

Marcus Pattie was just 12 years old when his dad took his own life.

“It felt like a lot had died with me because I was so close to my dad,” he said. a

“He was having some moral troubles in his life and I guess he didn’t want to want to hurt anyone, so he hurt himself.”

After his father’s death it was “just my mum and my sister were left”.

Mr Pattie said the experience “straight away it made me scared to trust my family, I was worried they were going to leave me as well”.

He turned to his friends to fill the void left by his dad.

“I really got into being best friends with my friends, hung out with them a lot, probably annoyed a lot of them by being around them so much,” he said.

Mr Pattie admits he was a troubled teenager and was quite rebellious.

“I didn’t do much in school, which I wish I had now. I left school with basically no marks.”

He said his sister having her first child was a catalyst for him to turn his life around.

‘I want them to grow up and be good men’

Mr Pattie now works with the faith-based, not-for-profit organisation BaptCare — predominately with people living with disabilities.

“I do a lot of work with men with autism, many without a dad too, so some similarities to what I went through as a child as well,” he said.

He is also a proud father of three. Thinking about that milestone brings him to tears.

“I never thought much about being a dad … I really enjoy it, but didn’t plan on it at all.”

He is now pushing for suicide to be discussed more.

“Since doing this job and speaking about it more, a lot of people do open up to me about their lives,” he said.

Workers ‘last line of defence’

Kelli Charles was a volunteer crisis supporter with Lifeline for several years while studying at university.

“It was intense, yes, but it was also a privilege to be on the other end of the phone when someone is reaching out for help,” she said.

“The stories that stay with you are the ones where they think there’s nothing more they can do, when they’re at their complete wit’s end, and they feel like they’re just a burden to people.”

Ms Charles said the number of calls she received grew every year in her 10 years there.

“I didn’t quite understand how important the service was until I was one of the people answering the calls. It’s the last line of defence for a lot of people.”

Kelli Charles sits on a park bench holding her mobile phone.
Volunteering at Lifeline was a rewarding experience for Kelli Charles.(ABC News: Jessica Moran)

‘Seek out what makes you happy’

Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between the ages of 15 and 44.

According to Lifeline, eight Australians die every day by suicide — 75 per cent are male.

People in rural populations are twice as likely to die by suicide.

Lifeline statistics also show that for each life lost to suicide, the impacts are felt by up to 135 people, including family members, work colleagues, friends and first responders.

CEO Debbie Evans said the organisation was working towards Tasmania being free of suicide.

“It’s okay to talk about it, we can ask people if they’re OK,” Ms Evans said.

“Talking about suicide … is incredibly important.

“People who are struggling and feel like they have no-one to talk to or reach out to makes it really difficult for people to get the help they need.