Rachel’s best friend of 20 years took his life. She’s putting ‘one foot forward’ for mental health support

by Raj Das

Title: Remembering Daniel: A Story of Loss, Grief, and Hope


Rachel Lee vividly remembers the last conversation she had with her best friend of twenty years, Daniel Stone. It was a message filled with hope and happiness, reflecting his excitement to share the latest developments in his life. Little did Rachel know that it would be their final exchange. Hours later, Daniel tragically took his own life, leaving Rachel devastated and questioning why. This heartbreaking story underscores the pervasive issue of suicide in Australia and the desperate need for increased support for mental health.

The Silent Crisis of Suicide

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), suicide is the leading cause of death among Australians aged 15 to 44, with an average of nine lives lost each day. This alarming statistic highlights the urgent need for more comprehensive mental health resources and support systems in the country.

Daniel’s Struggle and Untimely Demise

Daniel had long battled mental health issues, often expressing doubts about whether anyone would notice if he were gone. His inner struggle was not apparent to those around him on the day of the text exchange. Family and friends described him as being in good spirits, leaving no signs of distress. However, the next day, Rachel received a devastating call from Daniel’s brother, confirming her worst fears. Daniel had taken his own life.

Rachel’s Struggle and Her Journey to Healing

The loss of her best friend pushed Rachel into a dark place, exacerbating her own depression and anxiety. Amid her deep despair, Rachel discovered a way to honor Daniel’s memory and help others in similar situations. She embarked on the One Foot Forward initiative by the Black Dog Institute, participating in a virtual walk aimed at raising funds for mental health research and support services. Through this initiative, Rachel found solace in knowing that she was making a difference and keeping Daniel’s memory alive.

The Wider Mental Health Landscape in Australia

Daniel’s experience reflects the struggles faced by millions of Australians grappling with mental health conditions. The AIHW reports that approximately 4.2 million individuals aged 16 to 85 have experienced mental illness in the past year. Moreover, an estimated 8.6 million people are expected to experience a mental disorder at some point in their lives. These numbers highlight the urgent need for improved access to mental health resources and services across the country.

Barriers to Seeking Help

Despite the prevalence of mental health issues, research indicates that 60% of people with mental illness do not seek help. There are several barriers preventing individuals from accessing support, including a lack of awareness of their own mental health symptoms, the high cost of treatment, and a shortage of mental health professionals. More needs to be done to remove these barriers and ensure that individuals receive the care and assistance they need.

The Role of One Foot Forward and the Black Dog Institute

The One Foot Forward initiative, led by the Black Dog Institute, helps address these challenges by raising funds for vital mental health research, community services, and suicide prevention initiatives. The funds go towards developing digital mental health tools and apps that provide accessible, evidence-based care. These resources aim to bridge the gap between demand and supply, helping individuals access mental health support when they need it most.

Sending a Message of Hope

Rachel emphasizes that Daniel’s story should serve as a reminder that no one is ever alone and that help is available. Even in the darkest times, there is hope. By sharing Daniel’s story and participating in the One Foot Forward initiative, Rachel seeks to keep his memory alive and help others who may find themselves in similar circumstances.


Daniel’s tragic death shines a spotlight on the silent crisis of suicide in Australia. It urges us to reevaluate our approach to mental health education, support, and resources. The One Foot Forward initiative, along with the work of the Black Dog Institute, provides a glimmer of hope by working towards improved access to mental health care. Through collective efforts and increased awareness, we strive to ensure that fewer lives are lost to suicide, and more individuals find the support they desperately need.

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