Renowned author and journalist Sarah Wilson opens up about depression

Author and journalist Sarah Wilson reveals how the ‘kindness of strangers has saved her several times’ during a candid discussion about suicide

  • Sarah Wilson appeared on Q&A on Monday to discuss the ‘The Age of Loneliness’
  • A mother whose son took his life asked for advice on how people can help others
  • Wilson said from her experience it was the ‘kindness of strangers’ that saved her

Author and journalist Sarah Wilson has revealed the ‘kindness of strangers’ has saved her ‘several times’ during a candid discussion on suicide.  

The writer appeared on the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night for a segment on ‘The Age of Loneliness’.

A mother whose 41-year-old son took his own life in 2017 asked the panel for advice on how people can help someone they are worried about. 

‘He had numerous neighbours, friends and various organisations that he was in,’ the she said.

‘It appears he kept his worries to himself, not really opening up to anyone.’

Sarah Wilson (pictured) appeared on ABC's Q&A on Monday night for a segment on 'The Age of Loneliness'

Sarah Wilson (pictured) appeared on ABC’s Q&A on Monday night for a segment on ‘The Age of Loneliness’

In response, Wilson said she had found strength in her darker times by talking to people a ‘couple of times removed’. 

‘In terms of what to do if you feel you don’t know a direct connect, I can speak from experience that it’s often been the kindness of strangers, or friends that are a couple of times removed that have saved me,’ she said. 

Host Hamish Macdonald asked the self-help author if it was easier to be approached by an acquaintance.

‘I don’t know it was easier,’ she replied, ‘They were [just] the ones brave enough.’

‘And maybe it is easier when you’re not intimately connected. But absolutely, I have appreciated it and I would say it saved me several times.

‘And the one other thing I would say is when you’re in that position, sometimes you do need to be told what you need to be asked.

Wilson said the 'kindness of strangers' had saved her several times during darker times

Wilson said the ‘kindness of strangers’ had saved her several times during darker times

‘And so I wouldn’t be afraid of asking the question because quite often you’re in a space where you can’t make those judgements for yourself, so you feel very safe somebody has made that judgment for you.’ 

Wilson was joined on the panel by psychologist Hugh Mackay, Gotcha4Life founder Gus Worland, Michelle Lim of Ending Loneliness Together and Rosemary Kayess from the Disability Innovation Institute UNSW.

Discussions centred on the impacts of social media, how to access support and how to deal with loneliness. 

Recent research by the Australian Psychological Society found one in four Australian adults are lonely, and are consequently 15.2 per cent more likely to be depressed.

A growing body of evidence indicates loneliness can also be detrimental to physical health, including increasing the risk of premature death.

Ms Kayess said critical care decisions made by the government when the coronavirus outbreak hit made her feel invaluable. 

‘It was such a visceral reaction that I had. It was so in my face that I was dispensable. My life wasn’t valued. And I was dispensable,’ she said. 

‘Now I had this illusion that I was … doing a pretty good job with my life, working and I own my home, and I love my family, and I‘ve got friends and thought I was contributing, but when it came down to it, I was dispensable.

‘I was not one of the real people. And, yeah, it hit me in the face.

‘I was not alone. I think you speak to anybody with a disability, when that triage stuff was happening. And how do you think older people feel?

‘Older people are really only ending up in aged care systems because of their impairments. And so, yeah, from the word go it‘s been reinforced to them.’

‘They’re the collateral damage.’



Phone: 13 11 14 (24 hours/7 days)

Text: 0477 13 11 14 (6pm – midnight AEDT, 7 nights)

Chat online: (7pm – midnight, 7 nights)


Phone: 1300 22 4636 (24 hours/7 days)

Chat online:

‘Coping during the Coronavirus Outbreak Forum’ 


Phone: 1800 650 890 

Eheadspace services including one on one support, group chat forums 

SANE Australia 

Phone: 1800 18 7263 (10am-10pm AEDT, Mon-Fri.) 

Online Support forums:


Phone: 1800 55 1800