When you take your own life, the pain does not go away. It is only passed on.
That is the message of a heartbroken Wagga family, who were forced to bury their son last month.
Jack Neilsen – Nug – was 21 years old when he took his own life, mere weeks before his birthday.
It is a choice his mother Kara Fellows said would haunt her family for the rest of their lives.
“You hear about it happening, but you never think it’s going to happen to you,” Ms Fellows said.
“We want to spread the word to prevent it happening to others.”
Jack had the world at his feet, according to his mother.
He was a plumber by trade, worked at Riverina Cranes, and played AFL for The Rock-Yerong Creek.
He was the kind of bloke who would always make sure his mates were OK.
But Ms Fellows said no one knew he was losing the battle to his inner demons.
“We want to say something so people will speak up and get help when they need it,” she said.
“We want people to be aware that (depression) can affect anyone.”
The night before he died, Ms Fellows said her son had been in good spirits.
“We had dinner with him and he was happy and his normal fun self,” she said.
“Then he went to play darts with his dad. The next day he was gone.”
But the ripple effect of Jack’s loss spread well beyond his parents and four siblings.
Almost 500 signatures were inscribed in the book at his funeral at Our Lady Fatima Catholic Church on July 26; the church filled with hundreds of residents, family and friends, whose hearts Jack had touched across his tragically young life.
Ms Fellows said the generosity and support of the Riverina had blown her away, particularly when a fundraiser Jack’s friend launched raised almost $10,000 to help cover the funeral expenses.
“It was enormous,” Ms Fellows said. “We had no idea it had been set up … it paid for all of the funeral and the rest went towards Jack’s grave.”
If you are troubled by this story or experiencing a personal crisis, you can call Lifeline 131 114 or beyondblue 1300 224 636 or visit lifeline.org.au or beyondblue.org.au for more information.