Following is the full transcript of HALT co-founder Jeremy Forbes’ TED Talk: How to Start a Conversation About Suicide.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: How to start a conversation about suicide by Jeremy Forbes at TED Talk
In 2013, I had a life-changing epiphany. I was a painter and decorator in Castlemaine, a small country town in central Victoria. I’d gone to see Pete, who was renowned for his workmanship with steel. I’d gone to his shed to get some steel edging for the garden. This day, with hindsight, which is a wonderful gift, Pete seemed happier than usual.
Two weeks later, I was painting a house down the end of Pete’s street when I heard the tragic news: Pete had suicided.
Pete, like myself, was a tradie, or a tradesman. We do like to shorten things in the Australian vernacular. A tradie. There was an expectation as a tradie. You’re expected to be stoic. You’re expected to be strong, robust, macho. You’re expected to be tough physically and silent in the face of adversity.
There is a pronounced ripple effect when someone suicides in your community. Pete’s funeral was in July. It was winter. The mood was bleak and somber in the packed community hall. It was a grieving community who had no answers to Pete’s suicide, no answers at all.
As I wandered around between the tradies and the community members, I started hearing some tones of another underlying tragic level. I heard people talking in that community hall about the struggles other people were going through. The essence of the conversations was contained in two words that I heard several times: Who’s next? Who’s next? That was the epiphany.