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Speaking out for my Dad

Monday, 23rd July, 2018

Brittany Hillier is raising awareness and funds ahead of her head shave in January next year. PICTURE: Emily Roberts Brittany Hillier is raising awareness and funds ahead of her head shave in January next year. PICTURE: Emily Roberts

By Emily Roberts

When it comes to mental illness, there isn’t always a clear sign, which is why it is important to speak out.

That’s the message that young Brittany Hillier is hoping to put out into the community after her father, Andrew, took his own life six months ago.

Brittany is shaving her head on January 19, the anniversary of her father’s death, in an aim to raise awareness for mental illness and suicide.

She is also fundraising to donate funds to Beyond Blue.

“Suicide has become an epidemic, especially in rural towns and mining towns, with over 3,000 suicides in 2017,” she said.

“He is missing mum and his wedding anniversaries, our friends’ birthdays and various parties, Easters, Christmases.

He will be missing getting to share great news when Cameron (my brother) and I marry off and start families, climb our career ladders and collect achievements.

“The tears, heartache, loss and stigma we have been feeling and faced with, we wish no one had to go through.”

Brittany said she and her family discussed a number of ideas before coming up with a head shave.

“We circled ideas for a walkathon, but you need Council-approval to film past houses, we also wanted to do a colour run.

“But we also needed Council-approval for that.

“Shaving my head is just something you don’t have to jump through hoops for.

“Also, it kind of makes sense because Dad always used to make the joke that he would shave my head to make my showers shorter.

“As I’ve got very curly hair.

“Plus once I’ve done this, it will still be noticeable for six - 12 months.

“It’s a way to continue the conversation.”

Brittany said it was really important to get the ball rolling on speaking about mental health.

“There have been many cases of suicide in Broken Hill this year alone.

“Ranging in all different ages.”

Andrew suffered from seizures but was seeking treatment for his mental health.

“He went from a man that worked 60-hour weeks, to a man that had a shower and suffered a seizure.”

Brittany has put up donation tins around town and has set up an Everyday Hero website.

St James Mart have donated $1,000 to the cause and Brittany’s website has already raised $600.

“I would like to push it as far as I can until January next year.

“It was like a brick being taken off of our shoulders being able to tell Dad’s story.

“I was scared of the stigma more than shaving my head.”

Brittany said she has been impressed with the response from locals.

“It’s taken a long time to come to terms with it,” she said.

“There were no signs, we got up and went to work, Mum and Dad had plans to go to Adelaide the following week.

“I think that sometimes there is no such things as signs.

“Sometimes you can tell, people do withdraw.”


* To donate to Brittany’s fundraiser visit bit.ly/chop-for-dad 

* For information about anxiety, depression and suicide prevention go to www.beyondblue.org.au or phone 1300 22 4636.

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