Father's birthday suicide etched in daughter's memory
It was a day that most little girls remember with happiness, but for Anna Kelly her 10th birthday party was what she described as "ground zero".
Her friends had arrived at her home not long before local police delivered the news her father had committed suicide.
"He drove far enough away that immediate family wouldn't find him . . . he left a note with his name and asking whoever found him to call police," she said.
Kevin Kelly was a pioneer of deer farming in Southland and took his life on February 5, 1988.
His daughter, Anna, said it verged on ridiculous to talk about a work-life balance for farmers.
"They live where they work; they are on call 24/7; and are at the mercy of the elements, the bank, government policy."
At the end of the day her dad was burnt out and he confused his self-worth with the numbers on a balance sheet, she said.
"Mental health wasn't something that was talked about," she said.
"New Zealand reveres the stoic man but it's not a healthy image - someone who locks up their emotions." Her father was not a selfish or cowardly man - "quite the opposite".
She encouraged anyone struggling with depression to seek help.
"Living through it is better than the alternative; people need to understand how much they are valued."
The stigma society had created around mental health issues had become communities' role to deconstruct.
"The conversations we are starting to have will help - we need people to realise the way they feel just makes them human."
WHERE TO GET HELP
Lifeline: 0800 543 354
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Samaritans: 0800 726 666
Southland Rural Support Trust: 0800 787 254 In an emergency, dial 111
- © Fairfax NZ News
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