Wife of doctor who took his own life speaks out
THE family of a Brisbane doctor who took his own life have made an impassioned plea for the professional community to talk more openly about mental illness.
Father-of-four Dr Andrew Bryant died in his office last week after more than 20 years working as a gastroenterologist at his private practice and public hospitals in Brisbane.
Dr Bryant's death prompted his wife Susan to write an email, which has since gone viral, to his colleagues and friends about his suicide because she "(doesn't) want it to be a secret".
"If more people talked about what leads to suicide, if people didn't talk about as if it was shameful, if people understood how easily and how quickly depression can take over, then there might be fewer deaths," she wrote.
"His four children and I are not ashamed of how he died."
Ms Bryant said Dr Bryant had "never before suffered from depression".
"He hadn't been sleeping well since late February; but he was never a great sleeper," she wrote.
"He was very busy with work; but he had always been busy.
"In retrospect, the signs were all there. But I didn't see it coming.
"He was a doctor; he was surrounded by health professionals every day; both his parents were psychiatrists, two of his brothers are doctors, his sister is a psychiatric nurse - and none of them saw it coming either."
"I did what I could to help where I could, but I was confused - he'd always been busy and the practice, as far as I could tell, was running just as it had for the last 20 years."
Ms Bryant said Dr Bryant was "flat all Easter" and had a busy week on call for the public hospitals immediately following the break.
"It was on the worst on call week he had ever had - he was called every night and some nights more than 3 or 4 times and during the day he had to see his own patients and do his endoscopy lists," she explained.
During this busy week Dr Bryant missed every dinner at home, including his son's birthday dinner.
"By the end of the week (last Friday) he was exhausted, still couldn't sleep properly and (was) just 'flat.'
Ms Bryant said her husband was "upset and teary" after a patient died last week.
"Andrew was always upset when any of his patients died, but his level of distress in this case was unusual.
"I was very concerned about him, tried to talk to him about my concerns but he was very unresponsive.
Ms Bryant said she had urged Dr Bryant to seek help for his sleeping problems but he was "non-committal".
"I urged him to go and see someone about his sleeping but he was non-committal.
"He continued to see patients, do lists, go to work, get home late.
Ms Bryant's email ended with instructions to forward the message to "anyone you think it may help".
It has since been viewed and shared on social media thousands of times, as people open up about the "taboo" topic of mental health within the profession.
Anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide can contact Lifeline, confidentially, on 13 11 14.
If you are in an emergency, or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000. To talk to someone at Beyond Blue call 1300 659 467