She was accustomed to death, but it was her first terrible foray into devastation.
Jayne Newling, now of Leura, had worked for years at the morgue in Glebe, covering the coroner’s court for Murdoch newspapers as a reporter, but when her own son Christopher committed suicide, throwing himself off a cliff at Avalon at 17, she entered a whole new world of pain.
Ms Newling’s book, Missing Christopher, is a harrowing, poignant, powerful, honest, raw and immersive read. It will be launched at The Carrington Hotel in Katoomba on June 7 with rocker and Lifeline ambassador Angry Anderson as MC and the ABC’s Australian Story filming the event.
She chose to write the memoir, partly to heal herself and her family, but also to help others suffering with grief.
“I never really expected it would get published, it’s all been taken out of my hands. It [the book tour] has been difficult but rewarding as well, people have contacted me and said it helped them.”
She has lived in the Mountains for seven years, first at Blackheath and now at Leura, and has found comfort here, 1000 metres above sea level, from the “quagmire of grief”.
After her son’s death, there was no-one she could relate to.
“There aren’t a lot of people in your immediate circle who experience that ... the Mountains did so much for me, it was a huge part of my recovery being here without judgement.”
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics suicide remains the leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 24 years. Twice as many young men die by suicide, but figures on young women taking their own lives are on the rise.
Her younger son, Nic, who will speak at the book launch and be the focus of the Australian Story episode later in the year, said his brother Christopher’s death and the accompanying grief had “been a long journey for the whole family but I feel a lot of people will benefit from Mum’s book”.
At the time of Christopher’s death, Nic had been in an institution for mental illness and was the child his family were most worried about.
Mr Newling now works for Black Dog Institute (after having been a patient there) and spends his working life spreading the message, through his own story, about suicide prevention. He has also developed a website [www.biteback.org.au] for the Institute, which he runs which uses positive psychology to help other teens navigate depression.
Missing Christopher is published by Allen & Unwin. It will be launched at The Carrington Hotel on June 7 from 2-5pm. Tickets to the free event are available from Megalong Books in Leura. The National 24/7 crisis phone services include: Lifeline 13 11 14, Suicide Callback Service 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800.