5 March 2024

Cape York mums fight for a kinder world

| Chisa Hasegawa
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Debbie Jackson and Jackie Perry

Jackie Perry (right) and Debbie Jackson are spreading kindness in the community after losing their sons to suicide. Photo: Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service.Two mothers brought together by grief have turned their heartbreak into support for other parents who have lost their children.

Following the tragic loss of their sons to suicide, Jackie Perry and Debbie Jackson launched the Talk About it Tuesday service – a grief support after suicide group – and raising awareness in schools using Kindness Koalas.

Ms Perry, who lost her son almost three years ago, said she wanted to provide the kind of support she was given by her friend and partner in this initiative.

“It started because my friend Deb, who lost her son about 10 years ago now, the night we lost our son she came straight in and was there by my side,” Ms Perry said.

“I just found it so good to have someone with me who’d already been through this.

“It’s such a different sort of grief, and there’s so many other issues attached with it, you have to deal with police, and there’s a lot of guilt and regret as well.”

The two mothers, who both lost their sons on a Tuesday, wanted a way to show support to other parents and create a safe space to speak about suicide.

“We just thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could talk openly about it all the time and not feel uncomfortable, or not have people squirm when you bring up the subject?'” she said.

“It started off with just wearing the Talk About it Tuesday shirt to show support to each other and spread a little bit of awareness around our town, but it’s sort of taken on a life of its own.

The pair continue to spread awareness in the community, handing out information packets and fighting for a kind and understanding world.

“I think both of us thought ‘how can we make our sons’ tragic deaths help someone else or do some good?” Ms Perry said.

“I just feel like all of this tragedy and horrible feelings, it has to have a purpose.

“My son, he did want to spread awareness because he suffered for a long time; I knew he would want us to do something like this and I know Debbie’s son would have wanted that, too.”

School children with Kindness Koalas

The Kindness Koalas are serving as a visual reminder for children to be accepting towards one another. Photo: Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service.

They sent out the Kindness Koalas and information about their program to 29 schools across Cape York and the Torres Strait at the start of the school year.

“We sent out some suggested activities to go along with them, and left it up to each school how much they want to do,” Ms Perry said.

“We just thought ‘wouldn’t it be nice to have something in schools as a visual reminder to be kind?’.

“It might just take one word or act to make someone decide I won’t do it today, because someone gave me that smile or someone helped me do something.”

Ms Perry said both of their boys had learning difficulties and were treated unkindly.

“I remember there was a lot of cruel things that gets said to kids that might have a few learning difficulties,” she said.

“I think we just want to create a world where people try and put themselves in someone else’s shoes before saying something nasty.

“I hope people can feel safe to talk to somebody if they’re not feeling good and not bury it all inside.”

If you or someone you know needs help:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

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