If you love books and laughing out loud (not necessarily in that order) you won’t…
Trigger warning: This story contains discussion of suicide and self harm. If you or someone close to you needs support, please call Lifeline on: 13 11 14
Things always look different in retrospect. Back in 2009 the holiday Pip Seldon, 37, and her family enjoyed at Rainbow Beach in Queensland was just a bit of fun.
“My Mum came up with this great idea that it would be a good thing to get the family together, “ Pip says, “and it was something that we hadn’t done as a family since we were kids.”
Pip’s parents were there as well as her two older brothers Owen and Dale, their partners and Owen’s children too.
“Whether we realised it at the time or not, having that time together as a family was pretty special. We just did the really simple basic things that – you know – just being together as a family and spending time down the beach,” Pip recalls.
Today, that holiday is a precious memory Pip holds close.
“After those four days, I flew back to Canberra, and I was starting a new job here. And Owen and Dale, their families went back to Brisbane. It was about three or four weeks after that trip, and I still remember so clearly the phone call that I got on the night of the fifth of September,” Pip says.
Owen was on the line telling Pip something unthinkable; Dale had died by suicide. Listen to Pip’s story on our podcast below, or keep reading.
“I don’t know how long I sat on the floor in my bedroom for, in just a state of shock, I think, very much in disbelief.
At the time Dale, the oldest of his siblings, was just 35. At at such a young age, Pip reflects that a person should have their whole life ahead of them.
“I never in a million years expected to receive a phone call like that. It was completely out of the blue, and the time that we spent together as a family just three weeks earlier never indicated that there was any kind of problem,” Pip says.
She explains that without conscious thought, “autopilot kicked in.”
“I knew I needed to get on the first flight back to Brisbane. I booked a flight, I packed a bag and got myself to the airport.
“And I think it was only when I was probably on that plane and up in the air that…the reality of what had happened actually hit me. And I think that was the first time that I actually started to cry,” she says.
Reflecting on her relationship with her brother, Pip says “there was just this special connection that we had.”
She describes Dale, a carpenter, as “a typical Aussie bloke” with “a heart of gold.”
“What people saw was this kind of rough, rugged exterior but they often didn’t see what was on the inside.
“If someone needed something, if one of his mates needed a deck built at their house, he’d be there. If we needed something as his family, he’d always be there,” she says.
For Pip, Dale’s death “left a huge void” and innumerable unanswered questions.
“I’m a real details person, and for me it was so tough to try and understand why he made the decision that he did.
“And it’s so easy to continue to go over things and play things over in your mind and ask questions, and knowing though that you’re never going to get those answers,” she says.
Pip put herself through a suicide prevention training course with OzHelp
“I wanted to know as much as I could about how I could help someone who was at risk of suicide,” she says.
In 2011 Pip founded Cycle 4 Life, and with her support crew cycled 1,600 kilometres and raised more than $11,000 for Lifeline. But still, she wanted to do more to prevent suicides among young men.
Last year Pip started formal studies in nutrition and slowly but surely, started to build a concept in her mind.
“I really began to learn the huge impact that what we eat can have on how we feel, how we think, our mood, how we sleep, and our mental clarity,” she says.
This week Pip is launching a venture she calls the Healthy Tradie Project, aimed at educating construction industry employers and their workers about the benefits of good nutrition, exercise, sleep and mindfulness.
“Dale was a carpenter, Owen has an electrical trade background and I also work in the construction industry as a project manager.
“I’m so passionate about creating a change within the industry,” she says, adding that there “are some fundamentals…that we can be doing better.”
After losing her brother, Pip believes she has “really cracked open, in a good way. And I’ve allowed myself to be a bit vulnerable and to be able to be guided, perhaps.”
“I just believe so much in encouraging these guys to be really open-minded and enthusiastic about wanting to live a healthy and happy life,” she says.
From Pip’s perspective, this also includes mental health: “I think we really need to focus more on our people and how they’re feeling, and actually stop and listen to the answer.”
Find more episodes of The Moment here.
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Photo credit: Tracy Lee Photography