'He has saved my life': Lloyd Copper's lasting legacy
AN ABANDONED newspaper waiting to be read was the stroke of luck that saved Ryan Forbes' life.
The words that described the tragic passing of Lloyd Copper, a proud gay man who endured relentless bullying due to his sexuality, hit too close to home for Ryan.
"I have spent the last 17 years of my life fighting for the right to be who I was born to be and coming up against torrents of rejection, defence and persecution," Ryan said.
"I definitely experienced a lot of bullying in high school and have mental health issues. Recently, I was admitted to hospital as a suicide risk."
Ryan, 26, spent his teen years on the Coast. The years, for a young man who was struggling with his sexuality, are still his greatest source of pain.
"I feel like I will always have to heal from my experience of growing up here, and I ran away to Melbourne for eight years because I knew I couldn't be in this place," he said.
The lack of support for LGBTQI+ communities on the Coast drove Ryan to flee the bullying he faced.
Now living back on the Coast, he believes he has returned to the same brick wall of rejection and isolation.
"There is a gap in recognition and acceptance of queer people on the Coast that really doesn't need to be there," he said.
"There is nowhere near enough support on this Coast for us. It's a cycle that keeps turning, regardless of whether you're in high school or afterwards.
"I don't want anybody to feel like there's anything wrong with them, to be pushed to the point of feeling like there was no one to turn to or support them."
Yet through the agony, the Daily's story highlighting the tragic death of Lloyd Copper started a fire in Ryan that cannot be extinguished.
"I think Lloyd has saved my life," he said.
"When I read that article, it broke my heart. But then it made me incredibly angry.
"He went through so much, because of what? He was obviously a beautiful, loving and kind-hearted person that had so much to give and people were throwing these awful things at him because he was gay.
"I'm not going to stand for letting another person making me feel like there's no other option than to take my life."
Lloyd's sister Mary Copper was comforted that his story made a large impact on Ryan's life.
"It brings me joy that he won't have the same fate as Lloyd. To know that this feeling of losing him, of so much regret and pain, will not be felt by Ryan's family," she said.
His mother Barbara Copper shared the same sentiments.
"I'm so proud of Ryan for expressing himself and knowing that Lloyd's story has changed his life."
Both Ryan and Lloyd's family said they hoped his death would improve the scarce support of LGBTQI+ youth.
"There should be a safe space or a community group that would allow queer people to connect," Ryan said.
"As upsetting and tragic Lloyd's passing is, I want his family to feel that something came of it, that people see and know that the buck has to stop here."
For help call Lifeline on 131114 or the suicide callback service on 1300 659 467.
Is there enough mental health support for young people on the Coast?
This poll ended on 29 June 2019.
Yes, at the moment
We could always use more
No, there is a critical shortage
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.