Dennis (Denny) Purcell
20/01/75 - 01/10/00
Denny was a strong-willed, kind-hearted, fiery spirited, and remarkably intelligent young man. He also lived a life of being deeply and persistently misunderstood. Suffering silently with a range of mental health issues, that everyone dismissed, Denny viewed and experienced the world differently and he paid a high price for this.
Misunderstood, time and time again – in the school system, in the offices of many and varied medical experts and psychologists, and by so, so many people around him – Denny spiralled into a deep, dark abyss… the walls hardened with layers of depression, despair, and self-hatred for never seemingly being able to truly fit in this world.
For 25 years he tried to find his place – he tried to make life work, and to see the world through the same lens that everyone else seemed to. He tried desperately to understand who he was, when for his whole life no-one other than his family saw his struggles.
Eventually the toll that life took on Denny was too great.
At 4:30pm on Sunday, the 1st of October 2000, Denny's family received a distressed phone call from his wife. Denny had been found by the local police - deceased. He had gone missing the night before; and had been in a highly agitated state for a couple of days. Denny had taken his own life at just 25 years of age.
The family were stunned.
During Denny's funeral service, his family honoured his life and the extraordinary person that he was. Denny fought a life-long battle with depression and behavioural issues, and struggled to balance these against his love for his family, and a tenacity for embracing life – sometimes to an extreme!
Beginning with an array of troubles in his formative school years, and up to his fateful decision to ‘run away from home’ at the tender age of 14, and beyond this to adulthood... Denny’s life was marked by an intense struggle to ‘find himself’.
Denny was always somewhat a 'loner'. In the years he spent aloof after running away from home, ‘toting his swag’ alone and on foot, across vast areas of the country, while performing odd jobs on bush properties to make ends meet, was ironically where he felt most 'at home'. In a world where he was so deeply misunderstood, and in which the pressures of society were overbearing, running away felt like his only option.
Breaking wild horses for a living, or riding bulls in rodeos - just for the ‘hell of it’; had all held a fascination for Denny at different times in his short, tormented life. Prone to obsessiveness and addictions, amid chronic depression; one thing that Denny could never attain was peace, however he got fairly close to it in his beloved bush country. Denny’s love of adventure, and the lure of the bush, as well as his passion for horses, all featured strongly in the decisions that Denny made as he grew into his adult years.
However a passion for life and a fierce determination, alone, were not sufficient to overcome the many of life’s unique challenges for Denny. Denny's battle with his mental health was debilitating and left him weary and defeated, when at 25 he still hadn't found the answers to bring him peace in this life.
Denny's decision to take his own life, arose from the culmination of several powerful determinants. Denny's intense sense of personal failure, his confused state of mind, and his chronic depressive state all played their part.
Denny agonised over the torment he caused his family - daily. He couldn't bear the thought of being the source of their constant heartache, nor could he bear the thought of being apart from them. He rationalised that only his death could resolve both dilemmas.
Denny left behind a loving family, and while he is finally at peace, they all now carry the pain and torment that he unloaded. Suicide is never the answer to escaping pain.
Denny is missed every minute of every day.
Through The DENNY Foundation, Denny's family seek to tell his story, for creating greater awareness of mental health issues among youth and to prevent other young lives from being lost to the same fate.
A very special dedication is deserved here - to Denny's parents - John & Margaret Purcell- who fought to the very end to help Denny to find the answers and support he needed for the ways in which he was different and struggled. They never gave up on him, and their dedication to finding answers to mental health struggles lives on today in The DENNY Foundation and all who it helps.