'I wish I knew he was troubled': Mum recalls son's suicide

TRAGIC: Maryborough's Tam Olsen lost her 22-year-old son Christian to suicide in 2014.
TRAGIC: Maryborough's Tam Olsen lost her 22-year-old son Christian to suicide in 2014. Hayden Johnson

TWO years after her son Christian James took his own life, Tam Olsen still struggles to understand why it happened and how it can be prevented.

Ms Olsen was in the front yard of her Maryborough home in November 2014 when she received the news that her son had died.

He had taken his own life while working away in New South Wales.

Christian's death and the weeks that followed are mostly a blur for Ms Olsen.

Although as the sun continues to rise and life goes on, Ms Olsen still struggles to understand how and why it happened.

"The problem with suicide is you never really know," she said.

"It's such a devastating thing to happen.

"I wish I knew he was as troubled as he was."

In 2014 Christian was one of 627 people in Queensland who took their own life.

For every death, experts believe there are 30 unsuccessful attempts.

Last year the Wide Bay had a suicide rate of 20 deaths per 100,000 people, which was a higher suicide rate than the state average of 16 per 100,000 people.

Both these figures were higher than in 2014, in which about 17 per 100,000 were recorded in Wide Bay, compared to about 14 per 100,000 for Queensland.

Behind the western region of Queensland, the Wide Bay and Darling Downs are the worst in the state.

The most recent comprehensive report on suicides in Queensland was published by the Queensland Suicide Register.

It analysed the 1801 suicides in the state between 2008 and 2010.

The Wide Bay Darling Downs region had 287 deaths during that time.

In males, the highest suicide rate was seen in the 35 to 44 year age bracket while the lowest rates were recorded between 15 and 34 and 65 to 74 years age groups.

Among females, the suicide rate is the highest among those aged 35 to 44 years.

After living through the trauma of suicide, Ms Olsen finds herself wishing she could travel back in time.

"He had called me that night (of his death) and said a few things and if I could go back to that night I do think (I'd do things) differently," she said.

"It was a pretty quick thing - we had conversations about the way he was feeling while he was away at work.

"You don't know what to say and don't know what's in someone's head.

"It was pretty abrupt and quick - that's half the problem with suicide."

After her son's death Ms Olsen struggled and often thought she did not want to live - but she never got close to considering taking her own life.

"It baffles me as to how they get to that point (of suiciding)," she said.

"A lot of people say it's a coward's way out but I don't believe that - imagine how hard it would be to do."

Despite her personal connection with suicide, Ms Olsen was lost for words when asked how it could be prevented in the Wide Bay.

"There's not a lot of mental health help around here and it's really difficult to figure out where or what is causing the suicide rate," she said.

"There's not a lot you can say and that's the hard thing about it.

"Even though I've been through it, I don't have any answers."


- Beyondblue Support Service 1300 22 4636 or visit the website

- Suicide callback services 1300 659 467

- Kids helpline 1800 551 800

Topics:  death mental health suicide

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