Seven stories of hope - Chaya's story

Published on 25 October 2019


Please be aware the story below may contain reference to suicide. Should you feel this might cause any discomfort, please do not read further.

As a part of Mental Health Week, the Launceston Suicide Prevention Trial presents the personal stories of seven people and their experience, in a series titled Seven Stories of Hope.

Mental health issues and suicide are a concern across all Australian communities, but are often subjects which aren't openly discussed. Seven brave people from the Northern Tasmanian community are sharing their unique stories to break the silence and offer what they value the most: hope.

 By sharing their stories, they hope to help someone who is going through a tough time, or help someone who may have lost a loved one. They hope that others can feel empowered to talk about life's difficulties without fear. They hope that people realize all is not lost and support is available -- sometimes in the most unexpected places.

By sharing their story, we hope that you can take something away that will bring a new and unique perspective on an issue that requires all of us to play a role.


This story is by Chaya.


Let me tell you the story of three women.

 The first is a woman sitting on the couch studying biology at 10:20 at night. She hopes to be accepted into a course that will enable her to studying medicine the following year.

She's a stay-at-home-mum during the day but, in the evening, washes dishes at a local restaurant as a way to meet new people and also transition into a world not governed by nap time and sippy cups. 

 The second woman is in her car, out the back of that restaurant, on the phone crying. One of her sisters is in a coma with severe burns. Another sister is mid flight to the other side of the world. Five months earlier they buried their youngest brother, who died from suicide. 

The third is a woman tossing her chef hat in the air while laughing, surrounded by her family and friends. She has just finished her TAFE course to become a chef and works in that same restaurant.

The only thing separating those three women is time. A little over two years changed the path and perspective of this woman.

Of me. 

At 10:21 the first woman received a call to say her younger brother had died by suicide. She put her biology book down and didn't pick it back up.

Over the next few months she struggled to make sense of the grief, pain and loss. One of the only things she could look forward to was going to work; soothed by the clash of pans, the smell of chocolate fondants and satisfied by scrubbing plates and hot water. 

An opportunity arose to make a career out of it; to put aside the dream of becoming a doctor and to heal the broken through food. To send out plates of delicious flavours; nothing more, nothing less. To not judge the happy smiling faces, knowing that behind them could be pain and grief. 

So she worked hard; trading biology texts for recipe books, medical terminology for kitchen slang, hospital sanitation procedures for kitchen hygiene practices. Some days she put on a brave face; carefully applying a layer of humour over her scarred and breaking heart.

Other days she scraped her hair back, leaving her face and feelings exposed for all to see. Gradually she earned kitchen stripes; a burn here, a cut there. A sore back, sore feet, callused hands. The rhythm in the kitchen helped heal the second woman, something she never thought possible. 

The rawness of grief did surface now and again; a colleague died suddenly from suicide only hours after they had laughed together. Someone made a joke out of a suicide method in her presence, leaving her furious. An anniversary came by. But there she was; trying to live her best life, with as much passion and vigor as possible.

Knowing life was too short for petty arguments and bad coffee, she made the daily choice to be the way she is now.

The way I am now. 

From the outside I may look like I have it all together; I have a husband of close to ten years, three beautiful children, a blooming career, a smile, a sarcastic sense of humour and the youthful skin of a 19 year old.

Behind all that are three women making the choice to work together; to heal, to live and to speak about the journey we have been on. 

 * * * *

For support please contact,

Lifeline 13 11 14

Suicide Call-Back Service 1300 659 467

For emergency or immediate risk, please call emergency services on 000.