Why did my son take his life? A father's grief: Skelton mystery solved
By SAMANTHA HEALY
HEARTBROKEN Murwillumbah father Charlie Saville never gave up hope his son Chaitanya would one day walk through the front door.
But just two weeks ago, Mr Saville's worst nightmare was realised after months of forensic testing concluded that the mystery skeleton found at Mount Warning in March was his missing 18-year-old son. It is believed Chaitanya took his own life. "We had no indication he was so unhappy," Mr Saville said.
"He had only been talking about travelling to see friends in Queensland and he wanted to move near the beach.
"He had aspirations. When I was told what happened it was a real shock."
Chaitanya, who lived with his father in Murwillumbah, went to stay with a friend but soon vanished, leaving behind his possessions.
Mr Saville said that prior to his disappearance, the popular former Wollumbin High School student had been "a bit down" after losing his job at a nursery. His mother, who lived in New Zealand, had also died a few years earlier.
The last anyone saw of Chaitanya was in October 2006. Mr Saville reported his son missing in November, initially believing his son was still staying with friends, but contacted police after phone calls to his son's friends proved fruitless.
"The police did a great job, but I think initially they didn't take it seriously," Mr Saville said.
"They questioned me, asking leading questions, but I know they had to look at every avenue.
"We always kind of bickered but he was a teenager. They were just normal father, son tiffs.
"But we got along well. He wasn't real happy before he left, but I just thought he was relatively normal."
After months of putting posters up around Murwillumbah and the Tweed, Mr Saville said realisation his son may not make it home began to set in.
"I always expected him to walk through the door asking what all the fuss was about," Mr Saville said.
"But his bank accounts were never touched.
"After a while I had a feeling that something had happened, that he wouldn't be coming home.
"But in a way it's a relief to have an answer, to have closure. I'm sure he's okay now."
In March, bushwalkers stumbled across a human skeleton in bushland at Mount Warning. Detectives investigated the scene and sent the remains to the Division of Analytical Laboratories in Lidcombe for testing.
A toothbrush supplied by Mr Saville was cross-matched with DNA from the bones, confirming the remains belonged to Chaitanya.
And Chaitanya is not alone with a number of young people taking drastic measures to end their own lives each year.
In April, two 16-year-old Melbourne teens took their own lives in an apparent suicide-pact. Their parents were also unaware their teenage daughters were unhappy.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, suicide continues to be a major public health issue in Australia.
While a 2005 ABS report found the rate of suicides had declined, men continue to be the most represented gender for suicide, with 15 to 19-year-old men representing 19.3 per cent of all suicide-related deaths in Australia. "I hold on to the belief he is okay now," Mr Saville said.
"I asked him for some sort of communication and I've since had two dreams about him.
"In the first he just said 'I'm so sorry dad'.
"In the second (dream) I just saw him surrounded by colourful light and he just seemed so carefree and happy."
A memorial service is planned for Saturday week August 11 at the Red Cross hall in Murwillumbah.