Seven stories of hope - Yousef's story
Published on 15 November 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 Yousef.
Hi, my name is Yousef Mohammadi and I work for Migrant Resource Centre Tasmania as a bi-cultural worker.
I am originally from Afghanistan, and have been in Tasmania for two years.
I lived most of my life in Iran with my family, but while I was living in India and attending university, they were granted humanitarian visas to move to Australia. Once here, they applied for a family reunion visa for me to join them, which I did after a year.
Prior to coming to Australia, I spent three-and-a-half years living in India while I studied Microbiology. I moved to India when I was 17 years old, and it was initially really difficult and overwhelming – especially when I expected to land in Mumbai, but actually landed in New Delhi!
When I was living in India, I was away from my family and everyone I knew, and it was the first time in my life that I found myself thinking about suicide. I struggled to meet people who were interested in similar things to me, and had trouble communicating with my roommate and other classmates, and it was a really difficult first year.
After that I joined a soccer team and found some mates from Afghanistan, and people from many other countries and I started feeling less alone and more comfortable in this environment.
Because of my experiences, I have been really passionate about working with people in my community to better understand mental health. I have worked on a number of projects around Launceston where I have been talking with people from Afghan (Hazara) community to find out about what they are thinking about these mental health and suicide within their community. Having this chance to talk to people about these issues is such a privilege and to be honest I could relate to most of their responses.
Sometimes I get asked about my own experiences in regards to suicide, or whether I think that people can control their thoughts of suicide. I can relate to this question as I have had a few times in my life when I have thought of suicide.
While I did have these thoughts in my first year in India, I still occasionally find myself thinking about suicide. For me, these thoughts usually come when I am thinking that I am not being so proactive in the society or that I am such a useless person for my family. While I know these reasons might not seem logical, but it really shows me that thinking about suicide is not something that you are able to have a full control over.
It's just some thoughts come and goes, it can be any time, anywhere. Thus, my answer would be NO, I cannot always control my thoughts. I would say that what matters is that I would try to avoid these thoughts having a huge effect on my life and I would say for me that’s possible to do.
I’m so proactive in looking out for my health – both physically and mentally. I do work out at gym 4 times a week and do soccer training 3 days a week. These factors are very important for me to work on. All those suicide thoughts turns into a positive way, if I get my self working out at gym or play soccer. When I play soccer, I have my full concentration on what I’m doing. And after I finish soccer, I feel I’m a newborn baby with lots of positive thoughts. Same way with working out at gym.
Another really helpful support for me has been the good relationship I have developed with my Dad since coming to live with him again in Australia. I have really come to understand the benefits of a strong father son relationship, and he is who I go to for advice and support when things are tough.
I really enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of this project, not only because it was relevant to me, but also because it’s important to me to be helpful to people in my community. Hopefully by telling my story, it might help other people who have had thoughts of suicide and help people from the Afghan community be able to talk about these issues more openly.