News

Black Dog saved a shattered Peter

Peter Johnson, of Iluka, with his Black Dog tattoo and a memorial to his son, Jason.
Peter Johnson, of Iluka, with his Black Dog tattoo and a memorial to his son, Jason.

WHEN he heard his 28-year-old daughter Nicole had been run over and killed by two semi-trailers on Harwood Bridge, Peter Johnson prayed to God to make his next breath his last.

That was June 28, 2007 and it marked just the beginning of a tumultuous four years for Mr Johnson and his Iluka-based family.

His daughter Sara, who was in Year 11 at the time, was expelled from her school some time later; the details cannot be published because of legal restrictions.

A little over three and a half years later, Mr Johnson led the search party that discovered the body of his 40-year-old son Jason hanging from a tree in bushland east of New Italy.

Though Nicole's death was never proven as suicide, Mr Johnson said the family, especially Jason, were plagued by the stigma that she had taken her own life.

Aside from the truck drivers, there were no witnesses to the incident, Mr Johnson said, and very little information was uncovered in the investigation.

Mr Johnson said Nicole was lying in the middle of the southbound lane when she was hit by a semi-trailer, closely followed by another, about 7pm.

Even though Nicole had drug and alcohol problems and had recently had her twin baby boys removed by the Department of Community Services, Mr Johnson said the family could not accept that she had opted to take her own life, even though he said it was a possibility.

"Sometimes Nicole would just go off and we wouldn't hear from her for a day or two - the last time we saw her was when we dropped her off on the highway almost at Yamba Rd about 5.30 that night," he said.

"A couple of witnesses said they saw her trying to hitch- hike.

"Her death impacted everybody severely."

Life went on for Mr Johnson, his wife Brenda and their six surviving children, albeit with some significant challenges, but Jason was never quite the same.

Before his death early last year, Jason was very depressed.

"He took his Bible everywhere and when his girlfriend said he hadn't taken it and wasn't drawing money, we knew something was wrong."

In February 2011, a shooter found Jason's abandoned car on a bush track east of New Italy.

On February 10, Mr Johnson led the search party that found his son's body - his remains indicating he may have been hanging for up to 20 days.

"I don't think he wanted to be found ... I don't swear very often but I swore my guts out and my biggest worry was 'how am I going to tell my wife'," he said.

The psychological toll of these traumas has left deep scars for Mr Johnson but he said his faith, the support of his children and friends, along with insights from the Black Dog Institute had helped him through.

"There are many times I've felt like giving up... when you are severely depressed you lose all perspective.

"I like Black Dog because it's not so much to do with medication but exercise, diet and counselling.

"On the website you can diagnose how you're travelling with a checklist and a tally."

A recent spate of public bullying had prompted him to speak out and remind people their words could be far more damaging than they ever realised.

Topics:  black dog institute peter johnson



How to survive a bushfire in your car

IT SOUNDS like a nightmare, but it can happen.

Eight reasons to join the RFS

SPREAD across 93% of Queensland, the Rural Fire Service has about 36,000 volunteers. And you could be one of them.

What if my insurer gives me grief?

CLAIMING your insurance cover after a natural disaster can go one of two ways. It can be a breeze, or like pulling teeth.

EXPLAINER: How to grab bargain flight from Wellcamp Airport

"Chances are, when it's at that price, they've just paid for the last two seats on the flight."

She said once they were nabbed, the tickets could skyrocket.

New business sends Westside into a spin

Stuart and Louise Tait are the couple behind Westside's latest offering, The Laundry Room Laundromat.

A FRESH clean new venture swung open its doors today.

Memorial wall welcomes new funds

Jim O'Leary accepts a cheque from Eddie Marshall.

A NEW dais and memorial wall is one step closer to construction.

Local Partners

15 things to do on the Southern Downs this weekend

If you're looking for something to do this weekend, here's some awesome ideas


Kernaghan's a 'boy from the bush' with a timeless quality

Country music singer Lee Kernaghan.

Lee Kernaghan is celebrating the 25th year of his breakthrough song.

Don't miss the free Bunnings Christmas party

Free Bunnings Christmas Family Night

WARWICK'S Bunnings Warehouse will come alive tonight for Xmas

Rose City unites in festive event

Erin and Keely Hilton.

Local performers entertain at Carols in the Park

Meet the Brisbane breakfast radio king's replacement

Craig Zonca ABC Radio

ABC announces Craig Zonca as the replacement for Spencer Howson

How predictable are your Netflix habits?

Stranger Things is taking the world by storm as a new-age nostalgic Sci-Fi Thriller

The new entertainment binging pattern

Kanye West is on the mend now he's back from hospital

Kanye West is more relaxed since returning home from hospital

WATCH: The young Aussie actor playing Barack Obama

A screenshot of the trailer for Barry, a new film from Netflix.

Aussie teen nails Obama's early university years

Boy George named as a coach on The Voice Australia

Iconic pop star Boy George is to appear as a coach on 'The Voice'

The first Baywatch trailer is here, and it's hilarious

From left, Jon Bass, Alex Daddario, Zac Efron, Dwayne Johnson, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesh Hadera in a scene from the movie Baywatch.

DWAYNE Johnson and Zac Efron star in TV series reboot.

Ipswich City Properties asset portfolio retains its value

Ipswich City Council Administration Building, South Street, Ipswich. Photo: Claudia Baxter / The Queensland Times

New website launched by Ipswich City Council

All I want for Xmas is a property bargain

$259,000, 13 Guy Street, Warwick. A block from Warwick's CBD, this graceful character home has three bedrooms and a study.

Ring in Christmas with one of these property bargains under $300,000

INSIDE STORY: The highlights of your $150 million CBD

GRAND PLAN: The highlights of the Ipswich CBD redevelopment and where they will be located.

Work on city heart's radical transformation to begin next year

VOTE IN OUR POLL: Sand mine opponents face serious dilemma

Public meeting for the proposed sand mine at Maroochydore last week.

Coast MP calls on Minister to stop KRA proposal with stroke of a pen

Developer's grand new multi-million dollar estate

NEW ESTATE: This is the only plan revealed by the property developer's new Billabongs Estate in Agnes Water.

DEVELOPER given the go ahead for a massive estate with 149 homes.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!