A month or so ago I watched a video of an excellent and terrifying report on 4 Corners on youth suicide focusing on the story of one young boy who was good at everything, loved by all, with lots of friends. He got prodigious scores. Then at the age of about 16 he discovered that he couldn’t do that well without working harder than he wanted to. And he had always known he was gay. He didn’t get hassled about it, it doesn’t seem. But these two things and perhaps the pressure of performing led him in the end to suicide at 17 – a favouriate age for it it seems.
The Anika foundation which is dedicated to doing what’s possible on youth suicide has just floated into Austrlalian economists’ ken because the RBA Deputy Governor is giving a speech to it. Further inspection shows that he’s on the board. And the reason is not had to see. Adrian Blundell-Wignall was a long time at the RBA and is now in the private sector (I think). Anika was his daughter. She suicided. I’ve reproduced her story from the website over the fold. I guess I’d think they were good poems anyway, but hindsight gives them an overwhelming poignancy.
On 17 May 2004 Anika was at home studying for a major mathematics assessment for the HSC to be held the next day. Anika left letters to her parents and friends apologizing and explaining to them that she could not cope any more with the pressure of the HSC, along with an issue with a friend. Anika was a top HSC student at SCEGGS Darlinghurst: she won one of the major prizes in the state-wide Intel Science competition in 2002 (third), and her assessments in all subjects were running in the 90’s. Anika had a close supportive family, including an older brother Tate and sister Danae. But Anika suffered from depression. She is no longer here.
Anika wrote dozens of poems about life and depression, and she also kept a secret diary of her life hidden away on her computer. Anika’s father is writing a book about her life, jointly and posthumously with her. When the book is published, all revenues from it will go to the Anika Foundation to support research into depression in Australia.
Here is one of Anika’s early poems from when she was 12 years old.
People are like flowers
There are many different types
None of them are identical
Some die out
And some live on
Some flourish and bloom
Bright with colours
Others stay normal and plain
Many aren’t recognised, and stay as buds
-never come out
Some are pointed out and get great recognition
But all flowers have their chance to bloom
And only half of them do
A few years later she wrote this one.
I think life is like building a card house or castle
You take all of these cards
One for love
One for friends
One for truth
One for lies
One for school
One for work
One for play
One for sleeping
One for dreaming
One for anger
One for joy
One for sadness
And many more
And you start to build
And sometimes you bump a card
Accidentally, and it all falls down
Other times you get further
And some really interesting cards are used
Some people can build a really big house
And when they put their last card on
Their life’s work is done
Other people build little houses
And they don’t use many cards at all
We’re all building card houses