Heartbreak as ‘happy-go-lucky’ soldier takes his own life in Australian hostel

A grieving dad spoke candidly about his son's mental health issues that led to him taking his own life while travelling in Australia.

Paul Hakin, 55, described his son Damon Hakin, 25, from Doncaster, as a "happy-go-lucky" character who enjoyed life and always helped others.

Damon took his own life on February 20 at a hostel in Sydney, he struggled with mental health issues and his dad described him as a "Jekyll and Hyde character" who had difficulties after being in the Army for six years.

The devastating news reached the family after Damon's mum and Paul's ex wife received a knock at the door from the police.

"His mum called me and the police must have had his mum's address," he said. "They went round at 5am and gave her the news and she rang me straight away.

"As soon as I saw her name pop up I knew something bad had happened. I hoped it was just an accident and then she told me."

According to Paul, Trina knew her son was a "ticking time bomb" due to his mental health struggles over the years.

Paul had spoken to Damon only a week before his death and said he was in a dark place. It was the anniversary of his best friend's death who was killed in a motorbike accident and it was weighing on Damon's mind.

"It was early in the morning in Australia and he was drinking and he was telling he was down. I said 'you've got to try and pick yourself up from this' and we had a good 30-minute chat on the phone."

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After leaving the Army aged 23 with an injury Damon made the decision to explore the world and travel. He never saw active duty but Paul said it was hard for Damon when he joined as a 17-year-old due to the "masculinity and squaddie environment."

After spending time time in Thailand he made good friends and formed a strong bond with hostel manager Mark Innes in Phuket.

Mark said: "I loved the guy so much and I said to him that he could hang around as long as he could before he went to Australia."

Thanks to incredible fundraising efforts by friends Damon's body was repatriated to the UK and brought home to his family

Paul thinks his son had "no one to turn to" the night he took his own life and admitted it has been hard for the family to know he died alone.

"It's hard for us to know that he was on his own, and you just think 'what if'?"

Damon's family are keen for anyone wishing to pay tribute to donate in his memory to Help for Heroes via the GoFundMe page.

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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