“Rani was a really beautiful soul who unfortunately just got caught up in some really bad situations.”
Those are the words of grieving mum Kerrie Stanley, and already you know how this story ends.
It’s a painful one. And familiar.
As Rani entered her teenage years she became increasingly rebellious. She fell in with a bad crowd and then the drugs started.
She would disappear for days, couch-surfing and spinning stories for the parents of friends who would let her stay without so much as a phone-call to Kerrie to say where her little girl was.
“She managed to do this for about a year and a half,” Kerrie said.
“What I found most difficult at that time was, I knew she was staying at other family homes and not one parent called me.”
Kerrie struggled to find a way to reach her daughter, who was hellbent on keeping her mum at arm’s length even as she desperately needed the support.
Support to navigate school, mental health issues, a drug problem and increasingly abusive personal relationships.
“We gave it all we could, she just couldn’t get over the line … there was no coming back for her.”
On February 22 Rani was found dead in a city parking lot. She was 18. The cause: suicide.
The questions around how, where and when faded into the background for Kerrie and her family at first, as they set their minds to preparing a loving service.
It wasn’t until later that the events of Rani’s final days would be revealed, and start to paint a picture of a health service struggling to cope with complex mental health problems.
In fact, it was at her funeral that Kerrie first started to learn the truth.
“This woman came up to me, I didn’t know her, and she was terribly distraught and said, ‘I was with Rani the night before, I couldn’t keep her in’,” Kerrie said.
The woman was a nurse at a hospital in outer Melbourne, where Rani had been taken because of a suicide attempt only hours before her eventual death.
At first Kerrie was confused — at the time she didn’t know Rani had even been to that hospital. But over time she managed to piece together the details.
On February 15 Rani was found in Melbourne’s CBD after a suicide attempt and taken to a city hospital, where she was admitted to a psych ward.
On February 18 she discharged herself.
On the 21st she was again found in an erratic and suicidal state, this time at an outer suburb, and was taken to a different hospital. Rather than be admitted, she instead chose to leave.
The next morning she was dead.
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