After losing their son Thomas to a cowardly one punch attack, Ralph and Kathy Kelly thought life couldn’t get any worse. Then, their 18-year-old son Stuart took his own life in July last year.
In an emotional interview with 60 Minutes last night, the Kellys blamed archaic hazing rituals and merciless bullying over lockout laws at a university college for their son’s death.
Stuart had apparently become depressed and withdrawn after attending St Paul’s College at Sydney University, with his mother saying just one night there dramatically “changed him”.
“He was one of the really popular kids, and he went off to university at Sydney, for one night at a college, and he came home a different person the following day.
“You know, it just changed him, he was broken,” Ms Kelly said.
They said Stuart had spent just eighteen hours boarding at the college when they picked him up and he burst into tears.
“We hadn’t seen him cry since Thomas died, so to see he was just sobbing, uncontrollably, and he came home and he went into his room and he basically didn’t come out for the next couple of months,” Ms Kelly said.
“So you can only assume that something catastrophic happened to him that made him feel the way he did.”
The whole Kelly family had been targeted in the wake of Thomas’ death in 2012, receiving vicious death threats for their public support of the lockout laws.
“There were death threats and things like that to our family. What does that do to an 18-year-old?” she said.
“People were saying '’let's kill the rest of the Kelly dogs off’ and things like that.”
In 2015, Stuart became the focus of the attacks after giving a moving speech at the Take Kare gala dinner about the effects of alcohol-fuelled violence on his family.
“I carry a deep scar that you cannot see. It's always there, it never leaves,” he said as he called for an increase in penalties for offenders.
“I don’t think we ever would’ve ever considered allowing him to get up and make that speech, had we thought that this would’ve been the outcome,” Ms Kelly said.