Depression diagnosis came too late to save young life
A GRIEVING Gayndah mum is campaigning for more support for those battling mental illnesses in rural communities after her 16-year-old son took his own life eight weeks ago.
Mark, a talented motocross rider, boxer and artist, committed suicide on his family's property on October 7 dying from severe brain damage in a Brisbane hospital two days later.
Sadly, he is one of three teenagers to have taken their own lives in the region in less than two months.
A 15-year-old Bundaberg girl ended her life last month, along with a Year 12 Bundaberg High School student who committed suicide last Tuesday - exactly two weeks after his school formal.
"To find your child like that, I don't know the word for it - it just tears everything inside of you out," Mark's heartbroken mum, Kellie said.
"You feel like a failure."
Monday, October 7 should have been just another ordinary day for the Millingtons.
"I was in the kitchen cooking a slice, his sister was out in the granny flat, his brother was in the same room," Mrs Millington said.
But at 9.30am, Mark walked out of his home - and no one knew it would be for the last time.
"You think when you see your child 30 minutes beforehand that you're going to see them again," Mrs Millington said.
She said Mark, who suffered from depression and anxiety, had been having an argument with someone over the phone when he left the house.
"We believe the content of the phone call was what pushed him over the edge," she said.
Mark's dad, David, says social media also played a part in his son taking his own life.
"Their lives are just so public now and there is all this pressure," he said.
Mark was flown to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital but his brain was damaged far beyond repair due to a lack of oxygen.
"He could still hear us even though his brain damage was severe," Mrs Millington said.
"The nurses said they hadn't seen a person with such brain damage, cry.
"He didn't open his eyes but he cried."
Mrs Millington's heart is not the only one shattered - Mark's death has had a profound impact on the entire family unit including his two sisters and, in particular, his identical twin, Kyle.
"They are struggling - they are trying to deal with each day as it comes," she said.
But when the sadness "takes over your whole body", it is in these dark moments that Mrs Millington struggles to cope with the grief.
"I've taken to writing letters to him on his Facebook page," she said.
"You can't sleep at night - you have visions and it just replays over and over in your head.
"So when I can't sleep, I write him a letter.
"I know it may seem like a weird thing to do but it's working for me."
Despite the tragedy, the entire Millington family is determined not to let their son and brother's death be in vain.
"It hurts like hell to lose your son, your child," she said.
"Next year we want to start going to schools and talking to the kids, just to tell them there is help out there and that they have to vocalise how they are feeling.
"I'm determined not to let his life go to waste - I want people to remember my boy the way he was, not remembered for what he did."
A true reflection of Mark's character can be seen through a decision he made as an eight-year-old boy - to be an organ donor.
"He has saved a life - that part is fantastic," she said.
Mrs Millington said country communities needed more support, especially for people with depression and anxiety.
"(Mark) wasn't diagnosed until five weeks before he did this," she said.
"We do need more out here, especially with counselling.
"The biggest message I want to get out is if your friend is struggling, contact somebody."