My dad suffered from depression for many years and on November 17th of 2007 he took his own life.

At around 2:30pm of that day I found his body hanging from the rafters of my family shed.

I was 15.

My dad left behind a suicide letter addressed personally to me that was discovered beneath his bed the following day.


My dad’s suicide had a profound effect on me and my family. It created a lot of suffering that still affects us to this day. Having personally endured many years of intrusive imagery and emotional solitude, I have made the choice to do all I can to prevent the same suffering from finding others too. Sharing part of my story via this website is only the start!

Brendan McDonnell

My name is Brendan McDonnell. I’m 24 years old (UPDATE: I’m 28 now) from Adelaide, South Australia. I teach Muay Thai and I design stuff. I started this website in 2015 while I was living on the Mediterranean Island of Malta.

I initially created the blog to share my life with my family and friends in Australia. After launching, I soon realised that through it I can connect with and inspire many more! I am now ecstatic to say that one year since launching in June of 2015; brendanmcdonnell.com has had over 25,000 users. Of those users, 80% came to my website to read my first article:

Nonetheless they came!

Brendan McDonnellMagazine article from Malta

Following the discovery of my dad’s body in 2007, I remained silent until May 22nd of 2012 when I first recalled the events of that day with a pad and pen. I would not have been able to do this had I not first sought the help of an amazing psychologist. I found a means to express myself through writing and since then I haven’t stopped. Writing and sharing has allowed me to break down, clarify and give meaning to my experiences.

As I mentioned, my dad left behind a suicide letter addressed personally to me. In it he told me that he didn’t want to “expose me to the doom & gloom that had taken over his life” so he ended it.

It took me 7 years to even begin comprehending this, let alone understand it. The journey continues!


For now though, I KNOW that with awareness the doom & gloom can be overcome!

So, my objective is to do all I can to spread the gift of awareness. As I put it from day one:

“I’m going to spread awareness like true-blue Aussies spread their Vegemite (the Aussie version of Marmite): THICK.”

brendan mcdonnellMy favourite picture: dad sketching – early 90’s

After 2 years in Europe, I’ve returned to Australia with my beautiful partner, Stephanie, and with her as my support I’ve continued work to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention.

I’ve converted the family shed where I found my dad’s body into a positive space of growth that I’ve named ‘Brenny’s’. It’s basically a little gym where friends come to learn Muay Thai and drink coffee with me.

I’ve also started a Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention Clothing Brand aptly named ‘Herman’s Hands’ (Herman being my dad’s nickname). Using clothing as a vehicle for awareness spreading, I hope to continue creating dialogue and inspiring change. www.instagram.com/hermanshands

brendan mcdonnellBrenny’s shed conversion

brendan mcdonnellBeautiful Stephanie in the Herman’s Hands ‘Sun Through the Clouds’ Longsleeve Tee

Through the journey so far, I’ve found is that sharing yourself in hope of facilitating growth in another is among the only real things you can do for anyone.

The effect you have on people is the most valuable currency of all.

It has taken me over 7 years to get here (8 now that I’m re-writing this spiel), but here I am… Sharing myself.

brendan mcdonnell3 BRANDS – 1 MISSION

Mental illness does not discriminate. It can and will affect anyone! I hope that this website doesn’t discriminate either.

That doesn’t sound right… Anyway,  I’ve made it for you!

So, if you have a spare 15 minutes read some of my ramblings. Hopefully you can take something away from them! If not, it sure as hell beats re-opening your Facebook tab and looking at Game of Thrones memes or watching 6-second Vine videos about goats.

Brendan McDonnellPOW!

15 Comments. Leave a comment


  1. Pierpaolo Burattin
    June 03, 2015

    Nice to hear about you , man ! :D

  2. Maxine
    June 03, 2015

    Wow Brendan! Did not expect to read that when I opened the link! Very inspirational, keep it up.

  3. Troy Bettineschi
    June 03, 2015

    Hey mate. Awesome idea and great initiative. Keep up the good work and I’ll be watching from afar and spreading your message from afar. I share your pain and like you we are moving forward! All the Best bro!

    • Brendan McDonnell
      June 03, 2015

      Cheers Troy, means a lot. Glad you like it.

  4. michael Robbo robinson
    June 03, 2015

    Hey get back to the beltroom
    Great work Brendan! Top read ! Follow those dream mate ! Dad would be prowd home boy!

  5. skye Falzon
    June 03, 2015

    Wow I didn’t expect this, but what a great idea.. keep up the good work :-)

  6. Asmira Hanic
    June 03, 2015

    WOW. Did not expect this at all when your mum shared it on her fb wall. But how brave commited and strong to create this but most importantly to enjoy and experience life in such a way is amazing. Well done on creating this. AWESOME !
    Good luck.

  7. Sparrow
    June 08, 2015

    Reading your blog has brought back so many wonderful memories of your beautiful family Brendan. Thank you for having the strength to share your story. Many will admire the courage it has taken. The best way to honour those no longer with us is by keeping their name and stories alive. I will always cherish the memories of Him, he gave me the nickname sparrow which has stuck my whole life, the times I climbed all over your dad reading his tattoos like a story book, the time he pulled an iron fence apart as my head got stuck chasing Gavin or the countless times he’d pick me up off the pavement when I fell off my bmx. It’s great to see the man you’ve grown into and I know your family would be very proud! Much love to you x

  8. Lynne Mc D
    June 15, 2015

    Nice waterside view Bren. What a lovely place

  9. Gen
    June 15, 2015

    Just found out about your blog and Im so happy I clicked on it! You are an inspiration. Keep it up and hope you are enjoying our sunny Malta :)

  10. Jimmysdaughter
    October 30, 2015

    Having a parent commit suicide really changes us. I am trying so hard to not change me in bad ways. I am not so young but I’ve faced a lot of adversity and I have always believed in using my personal experiences to better myself instead of playing a victim. Not many people are so open and willing to help others. I would love for people to stop saying that my dad was selfish for leaving his only child fatherless. I feel so terrible for not being able to help him. I don’t believe that suicide kills pain. In fact, I know that the pain is merely just given to the ones that love them. I would love to be able to come to terms like you. You are very lucky.

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