Parental Guidance host Dr Justin Coulson’s nephew dies by suicide

Parental Guidance host Dr Justin Coulson has shared his nephew has died by suicide at the age of 20.

The parenting expert and author revealed his “heart is shattered” after his “energetic” and “delightful” nephew, Logan, died on Sunday night while staying at his grandparents’ house.

“My mum and dad – his Nan and Pop – found him on Monday morning,” he wrote, adding it was “too late to help”.

“Too late to do anything except scream ‘No’. Too late for him to hear them as they cried his name over and over again: ‘Logan! Logan! Logan! Logan!’ ‘No, no, no, no, no!!!!’”

After discovering what happened, Dr Coulson said his parents had to make the devastating call to Logan’s mother on Monday morning and break the news while she was celebrating a weekend with her husband in Melbourne.

He added Logan left a note but it “won’t bring peace or relief to anyone … Because he’s dead”.

Paying tribute to the 20-year-old, the father-of-six said Logan was a “kind” and “fun” person who was “laughing all the time”.

“My kids – his cousins – loved hanging out with Logan, and as his Uncle, I did too. We surfed together at Kirra last year when the surf was as good as it gets; well overhead and absolutely pumping. Surfing was his thing … so much so that he was close to pro.”

Dr Coulson added he was “not doing so well”, before shining a light on the country’s stark suicide statistics.

“My heart is shattered. Shattered for Logan. But also for his parents and siblings, and for my parents. I don’t want sympathy here though. That’s not what this post is for,” he said.

“Here’s what I want you to know: There are nine suicides every single day in Australia. Seven of those nine suicides each day are men. Two of those nine are women. And suicide is the leading cause of death among young people (15-24 years). 36% of deaths in this age group are suicides.”

Acknowledging suicide is a “complex issue”, he implored people to be kind and remind others that they matter and are loved.

“Please, please, please, PLEASE be kind. Be compassionate. Be gentle. Be inclusive. Be supportive. Be less critical and judgmental and more of a cheerleader. Don’t be on your kid’s back (or your partner/spouse’s back). Instead, make sure you’ve got their back. Love them and make sure they know it. They have to know they matter.”

Dr Coulson went on to say the well-intentioned phrase, “I have no words”, which is often said following devastating news, needs to change.

He spoke of an upcoming episode on his Happy Families Podcast, where he chatted with Colin Campbell, who wrote the book Finding the Words, after his two teenagers died in a car crash.

“Colin makes the point that when we say ‘there are no words’ we are, in some sense, reducing the person’s life to nothing. We have to find the words, because the words we find tell the stories of those we love. And those stories help us to celebrate their life and our love for them.”

“Share their stories. Feel their pain. Elevate their experience. Find. The. Words. They’re there. And we need to share them.”

He pointed out that Logan died in a month dedicated to men’s mental health – Movember – and stressed the importance of talking to people if you’re struggling.

“I miss Logan,” he concluded the post.

“Please hug your kids. Hug your husband/wife/spouse/partner. And share this message and this love with everyone who needs to know how much they matter.”

Originally published as ‘Heart is shattered’: Parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson’s nephew dies by suicide

Cristeen Gonzama

Cristeen Gonzales writes about health and medicine. She tends toward stories that reveal the on-the-ground impact of health policy, with a particular focus on the opioid epidemic, Covid-19 and abortion.

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