News

Years of horror lead news photographer to breakdown

Former media photographer Rhodes Watson reflects on the trauma that led to him having a breakdown.
Former media photographer Rhodes Watson reflects on the trauma that led to him having a breakdown. Chris Ison

CONTROLLING his emotions was how Rhodes Watson coped with the endless visions of death and suicide.

Working as an APN photographer for more than a decade in regional areas, Mr Watson saw more than his fair share of suicides around Central Queensland.

During his functioning years as a photographer, Mr Watson experienced horror, sadness and shock and eventually got to the point where he experienced a severe breakdown from post traumatic stress.

"I'm rarely able to take photos these days," Mr Watson said.

Living in a small town it was easy to get to know a lot of people.

"It got to the point that every time I went to an incident, a car accident or whatever, there was someone there I knew," Mr Watson said.

"In the period of 10 to 15 years, I photographed 28 friends, people who I knew who died."

Mr Watson still finds it difficult to remember the loss of locals or loved ones who lived in his town.

"One incident I remember was where a lady tried to kill herself by running into a truck," he said.

"I didn't know the lady but the truck driver was a family friend.

"It was the people who tried to do the suicide thing - that hurt someone by doing it."

Story after story, Mr Watson relays many dramatic instances that led to his breakdown.

"I remember one time a man put a rope around his throat and drove off with the rope attached to a tree," he said. "He decapitated himself.

"I didn't know the man, but it was a situation I went to."

Finally it got to the stage where Mr Watson was off work for 20 months.

The saddest day I'll ever remember was sitting in the corner of my lounge room, rocking backwards and forwards, crying.

"My three-year-old looked me in the eyes and said, 'Mummy, can I play with daddy today?'

"My wife replied, 'Leave daddy alone - he's sick today'."

The post-traumatic stress that Mr Watson experienced from seeing numerous suicides and deaths caused him to plunge into a depressed state himself.

"You'd be totally out-of-control," he said. "My wife would hold me like I was a baby."

When asked if he was ever suicidal, Mr Watson replied with uncertainty.

"My problem is I don't remember a lot of instances. I had a huge breakdown."

The seriousness of suicide struck Mr Watson at the core and he said he honestly believed it was more of an issue in regional areas.

"Having a family that's close to you makes a lot of difference," he said. "That's your support."

Whether contemplating suicide yourself or having lost a loved one to suicide, Mr Watson said it was important to find someone to talk to.

"It's knowing who you can sit down to talk to with," he said.

"It's hard to find someone to sit there and listen to you without taking on your problems.

"I've got friends who have become policemen and ambulance officers and if ever there is counselling offered I'd say take it."

Now, five years later and as the co-founder of WattElse, Mr Watson is committed to helping people the best way he knows how.

"Now, whenever I get down, I think of my life as a tree," he said. "All the branches reach to the top and there are many different ways to get there."

Topics:  central queensland, gladstone, suicide, suicide prevention




Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

'My mate spiked my Maccas with meth' man claims

Rocky man fined for drug driving

Teen's attempt to hide drugs down pants didn't fool police

Jack Nasser.

He was found with cannabis, ice and related utensils.

Opinion: Share some random acts of CQ kindness

Comedian Akmal Saleh explains his mockery of Rockhampton and speaks about Mayor Brad Carter forgiving him.

Share some random acts of CQ kindness: Opinion of Sharyn O'Neill

Latest deals and offers

New ICI at Rockhampton Hospital

Brittany Lauga, Karen Smith and David Austin at the new ICU in Rockhampton Hospital. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin

Director of Intensive Care Services for Central Queensland David Austin. It began...

Bill Byrne on Tim Nicholls

NO BULL: Police minister Bill Byrne has defended his performance in the agriculture portfolio.

Bill Byrne speaks about Tim Nicholls defeated Lawrence Springborg.

Federal Police Defuse Dance Bomb

Australian Federal Police respond to "threat" in Canberra.

Australian Federal Police respond to "threat" in Canberra.

Real estate agent says new developments push area forward

ON THE UPSIDE: Shae O’Reilly says the Capricorn Coast and the wider region has plenty of projects going on while we wait for an outcome on Great Keppel Island.

"sentiment can’t hang its hat on one setback for one project"

Real estate reveals Rocky's rising suburbs

Pat O'Driscoll Real Estate sales consultant Talitha Dodson Photo: Contributed

Talitha Dodson says it’s not all doom and gloom

Demand for acreage lots pushes up property prices

Property values in Cooroy have increased 25%

Property values jump in Cooroy and Peachester.