‘I wouldn’t want anyone to go through that’
IT IS the little things John Bryant misses about his father, like when he sets the table for five instead of six.
When Dr Andrew Bryant died a little over a year ago, the news of the respected Brisbane gastroenterologist's passing went around the world when his wife of more than 30 years, Susan, penned a heartbreakingly honest email about the circumstances of his death.
John, the eldest of four children, said the family missed his father every day since he took his own life last May and said the 15 months since were "horrific".
"I wouldn't want anyone to have to go through what we've had to go through," he said.
"It just came as a complete shock and in a way it still hasn't really set in. We've accepted dad's gone, but just the way it all happened, it just still seems so wrong."
It was 26-year-old John who posted his mother's email online, which explained her husband had "never before suffered from depression".
"If more people talked about what leads to suicide, if people didn't talk about it as if it was shameful, if people understood how easily and how quickly depression can take over, then there might be fewer deaths," she wrote.
"His four children and I are not ashamed of how he died."
John, who works as a paralegal, said he wanted everyone to be aware that depression, anxiety and suicide did not discriminate and could affect anyone.
"One in three people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime and we lose eight people to suicide every day," he said.
"As a family member of a victim, you do feel like you failed them in not helping them recover, and in our case we didn't even recognise he was depressed at all. But from where we are now, we just want others to learn from this experience and hopefully see the signs in those close to them and as a community."
John urged everyone to check in with their loved ones and force a conversation about mental health, and for those struggling to not be afraid to speak up.
"It might be a tough conversation at first if people do say they are contemplating suicide or have been harming, but it's better people have those tough conversations than what happened to dad. It's the worst-case scenario; you wouldn't want anyone to go through that," he said.
Determined to make "something good" come from the experience, apart from raising awareness, John has been fundraising for BeyondBlue.
He and his brother Nick started by taking in part in the Noosa Triathlon last year - raising more than $20,000 for the cause - and will do it again this year.
But first John will complete the gruelling 100km ride in the Brisbane to Gold Coast Cycle Challenge in October.
He has joined Bicycle Queensland as an ambassador and said he was pleased to be able to combine his passion for mental health advocacy with his dad's passion for cycling.
"Cycling was a big part of dad's life … we used to do the Brisbane to Gold Coast together. The first time I did it I was in grade 10 or 11 and I didn't really have the legs for it, but he helped me through and we finished together," he said.
Lifeline 13 11 14
BeyondBlue 1300 659 467
You can donate to John's fundraising effort here: https://noosatri2018.everydayhero.com/au/john-bryant-teambeyondblue