Local News

Parents' anguish as son, 13, takes his own life after being suspended from school

“My head knows it's real but my heart keeps saying this isn't possible, it can't be real, how am I supposed to go on now?”

By Kate Wagner
Six months ago, without warning, a popular 13-year-old boy committed suicide and his family have now spoken out about how they’re dealing with their new unthinkable reality.
Jimi McDowell’s 11-year-old sister pretends he’s on holidays with friends while his mum Debra depends on denial to numb the unbearable pain of his shock death.
Jimi had come home that day and told his mum he’d been suspended from school and she’d been understandably frustrated.
“The day I was telling him off [for getting suspended] was the first time, looking back on it, that he didn’t argue back. Normally he had an answer for everything, he was 13. He just looked beat this time,” Ms Brumby told Perth Now.
“I remember saying to him, ‘Why Jimi, why can’t you stop all this naughty stuff’ and he said, ‘I don’t know Mum, I don’t know why I keep doing it’.”
When she later checked on him and found he wasn’t at home, she just assumed he was at the park. It wasn’t until two hours later when police called her to say he was in a critical condition in hospital that she knew anything was wrong.
Three days later, his life support was turned off, just two weeks before his 14th birthday.“My head knows it's real but my heart keeps saying this isn't possible, it can't be real, how am I supposed to go on now,” Ms Brumby told the paper.
“[Georgie, Jimi’s sister] is the reason. She's the only reason I get up in the mornings. I've got no choice - I've got to keep going for this one's sake.
“But the flip side is the pain. Because this is now a life sentence.”
Jimi was never bullied or showed any signs of depression, and his family is still trying to figure out why he did it. His mum thinks it’s because he was upset he disappointed her and didn’t think about the finality of his choice.
“He was in a moment and in that little moment he made a choice that he couldn’t come back from … there was no build up to this, it was done and dusted in half an hour,” she said.
Ms Brumby and her husband Jason McDowell are speaking out in hopes of changing society’s attitude towards suicide.
“Stop sweeping suicides under the carpet,” she said.
“People are afraid to talk to talk to their kids about it. Parents need to be talking to their kids [about suicide].”
'Why can't we talk about it [suicide], why is it taboo? Get it out there. People have got to know,' Mr McDowell added.
If you or anyone you know is suffering, contact Lifeline (lifeline.org.au) on 1311 14 or visit Headspace at (headspace.org.au). Visit Beyond Blue at (beyondblue.org.au) or call 1300 22 4636. You can also contact the Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800.