Reece Rebetzke with his girlfriend Vanessa Shelley
Reece Rebetzke with his girlfriend Vanessa Shelley Contributed

Family shares heartache of young Mackay man's suicide

JUST weeks before he took his own life, Reece Rebetzke was urging his friends and family to talk openly about suicide.

Cracking a cheeky grin in a selfie, the 23-year-old from Sirram Station in the Mackay region was involved in a viral Facebook campaign discussing men's mental illness, and the high rate of suicide.

"The single biggest killer of men aged under 45 is suicide," he wrote on social media on August 22.

"In 2014, 4623 men took their own life (UK statistics). That's 12 men every day. One man every 2 hours!!!

"Let's show men all across the world that #itsokaytotalk."

But on September 20 Reece took his own life, leaving his shattered family and friends searching for answers.

His aunt, Stacey Heath, has written publicly about her nephew's suicide, in the hope it might stop at least one person from "inflicting this level of pain and hurt" on their family and friends.

THESE ARE STACEY'S WORDS:

As we prepare to bury my beautiful, full of life nephew my thoughts are a jumbled mess of hundreds of little flashbacks of his life all washed in hurt, anger and helplessness. He has become another Mackay suicide statistic.

To think that I can be considered "lucky" because in the last 12ish months I have "only" been affected by two suicides and one attempted suicide is absolutely ludicrous!!

In the last few days I have heard of people who attend a funeral once a month due to suicide in their circle of friends and the police attending Reece's suicide said they attend five suicides a week on average yet the government nor the media want to know about the area's suicide rate.

Let that sink in, five people a week are killing themselves in Mackay. Five families a week torn apart, five circles of friends asking themselves why and running their minds ragged with what ifs!

For anyone thinking that life is too much, that it's too hard, that no one cares take a few minutes to read what I'm about to say and ask yourself if you truly want your friends and family to live what we are currently living.

This is hard to write and so very raw for our family but if it stops just one person from taking their life and inflicting this level of pain and hurt onto their families it will have been worth it.

On Tuesday night just before 11 I got a call from my sister. She was frantic, near hysterical and all she said was 'Reece is gone, he's gone'. I couldn't put the pieces together in my head. How can a 23 year old full of life be gone? I even asked 'what do you mean gone, gone where?'

What followed was a mad drive from my house to Reece's of which I remember nothing of apart from a rising panic the closer I got to his house.

I arrived before my sister and her husband and let me tell you this, there is nothing more soul destroying than grabbing your big sister and trying to hold her back while she yells 'I just want to see my baby, let me see my baby' or watching a desperate mother and father break through the police guarding the door so they can get to their son.

On Tuesday night I witnessed broken grandparents and parents sobbing over their own flesh and blood willing him to wake up. Grown men, tough, strong men who have seen so much in their lifetimes broken and sobbing. When life gets hard ask yourself if this is what you really want for the people that gave you life? Do you really want them to suffer this?

When you think that everyone will be better off without you take just one second to ask yourself this question - 'who will find me and do I want someone I love and cherish to have that image etched into their eyes for all eternity whether they're awake or asleep?'

Reece loved his girlfriend, he cherished her, adored her and that's who found him. That's who rang 000, that's who performed CPR until the ambos got there, that's who carries the guilt of what happened with her every single moment even though this isn't her fault or her doing, that's who was interviewed by the police that night because she was the one that found him. She had relive every single detail to them through the fog of a fractured heart and soul.

Even though it was obvious what had happened there's a process to be followed and it's clinical and heartless. I watched as the police asked my broken sister if she objected to them performing an autopsy, a question that no parent should ever need to be asked but unfortunately has to be when someone takes their own life. Before you make that one last decision ask yourself if this is truly the life sentence you want to inflict on those you love most.

Today this shattered family had to make decisions that no one ever wants to make, decisions that are so much harder to make when a death is totally needless. Funeral arrangements. Decisions that seem so pointless when the light in all our hearts has been snuffed out, yet these decisions are so very important and need to be perfect as this is our final goodbye.

Somehow we need to reduce someone's life into half a dozen paragraphs, some music and a few poems. Usually you're able to gain some comfort when someone passes away from knowing that they lived a long, fruitful life but it's so much more difficult when a young life is cut short, even more so when it's been by their own hand. All the hopes and dreams a parent has for their child not only gone but stomped all over.

Do you really want your parents, your partner, your siblings having to make these decisions? Do you really think this alternative is better for them than having you in their lives?

Do you really think the burden of your death is lighter than the burden you feel you impose on your loved ones whilst still being alive? While there is life there is hope. Don't take that hope away. Hang onto it!

Every single person touched by Reece's death is carrying guilt. We are all asking ourselves why. We are all wondering if we did enough. We are all thinking that maybe if we just did something extra he could still be here. That we could wake up from this nightmare. Reece had a huge heart.

He was fiercely loyal and I mean fiercely. He was charismatic and cheeky and people were drawn to him. He was an asset to our lives not a burden. I wish Tuesday night he had of just taken one moment to think about what he was doing instead of making a split second decision with life-long consequences for those he loved and cherished most.

Once that decision is made there is absolutely no way back. I know this isn't what he truly wanted for his family and friends. He was so protective of his mother, he adored her. If he was thinking rationally that night there is no way he would have wanted to ever inflict this level of hurt onto her.

When you're desperate, when you're in a dark place please, please just take a moment to think. You are important, you are loved and you're very much needed by so many. To everyone else, just be kind, you never know what people are hiding behind their smile. Tell people you care about them, that you love them.

This is one of the many faces of Mackay's suicide epidemic - Reece Charles Rebetzke, aged 23.

Mrs Heath's story, which she posted to Facebook, has been shared more than 3200 times and gathered thousands of 'reactions' and comments.

 

Reece Rebetzke took his own life on September 20, leaving family and friends devastated.
Reece Rebetzke took his own life on September 20, leaving family and friends devastated. Contributed

Reece's mother, Lynelle Rebetzke, praised her sister for writing the heartfelt message.

"At this stage, Stacey has said all I need to say. She was so courageous to write it and I am so goddamn proud of her to be able to do that," she said.

"Maybe if someone else spoke out like that last week, he would have read it and still be with us."

Mrs Heath wants to raise awareness about mental illness and suicide in the Mackay community.

" ... we want people to talk openly about suicide, so the stigma associated with it is broken down," she said.

"We want people, young or old, to reach out to their mates and to their families. We want people to know it's okay to not be okay, that when life is tough to ask for support.

"Reece is gone, nothing will bring him back, nor will the reason why help anything.

"But if people can read of our heartbreak and devastation and understand how empty we are without him in our lives, maybe -just maybe - one person will seek help, or someone might realise it's time to mend some broken bridges within their family, or reach out to a mate that's been a bit off lately.

"People just need to start building people up instead of tearing them down all the time."

A private funeral for Reece was held on Wednesday.

Do you need help? Or maybe just someone to talk to? See below, or phone 000 if you're in danger now.

Lifeline - 13 11 14

headspace Mackay - 4898 2299

beyondblue - 1300 224 636

Suicide Call Back Service - 1300 659 467

Mensline - 1300 78 99 78



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