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Courtney Harris projected the perfect life. But on the inside she was suffering.

‘That system is not a system. It’s broken and we need a new one.’

TRIGGER WARNING: This post deals with mental illness and suicide. Its content may be triggering for some readers.

Courtney Harris was just 28-years-old when she took her own life.

From the outside, the jewellery designer’s life was a picture of perfection.

She was the recipient of the 2013 Business Initiative Grant, and her jewellery line had developed a celebrity following including Kate Hudson, Miranda Kerr and Lily Allen.

Harris’ social media accounts were dotted with images of happiness; she was surrounded by friends, on the beach, with her red dog, celebrating birthdays with family members.

On Triple J’s Hack last night, her sister Taylor described Courtney as a “successful, high functioning, creative jewellery designer and she’d built a public profile that seemingly projected a perfect life.”

And she was all of those things.

But through all the success and the accolades, Courtney was battling.

“Courts tried really hard to mask, to overcome her illness for the past 12 years.” (Image: Instagram)

Since her teenage years, Courtney had struggled with serious mental health issues. Taylor recounted her sister’s deep depression and her mood swings, and the effect they had on Courtney and their family.

Courtney’s friends and family had lived every high and every low of her 12 year battle with Bipolar II, a condition that had taken years to be diagnosed.

“Courts tried really hard to mask, to overcome her illness for the past 12 years.”

In 2012, Courtney attempted suicide.

When Taylor talked to her sister about her feelings, Courtney said: “I just don’t want to be here. You have to let me go.”

It was an idea too much to bear for Taylor.

“Mum and I will not be able to live without you. We can’t live without you,” she told her sister, “But in the end, that didn’t keep her here.”

Smothered you then, smother you (and @amcliff) now.. Don’t have too much fun without me ????????☀️

A photo posted by Courts (@_court_harris) on

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Courtney took her own life seven weeks ago.

She was surrounded by friends and family doing everything in their power to support their loved-one, but as Taylor told Hack, the current mental health-care system let them down.

As Taylor explains, someone suffering severe mental illness is likely to be admitted to hospital, where they are isolated and entirely removed from the real world.

Then when the time comes, they’re discharged and that 24-hour system of support just goes away.

“They’re expected to be able to cope and keep themselves safe with minimum if any mental health plan,” says Taylor.

Courtney was surrounded by a family and close network of friends who would have done absolutely anything to assist in her treatment. (Image: Instagram).

Courtney was sick of telling her story over, and over again to new doctors.

“She was tired,” Taylor told Hack. “I don’t think she had enough professional help and I think that’s probably a common factor with people who end up taking their life.”

“The current approach to treating serious mental health problems and illness is so inadequate and so unrealistic,” she said.

“For someone who has attempted to take their life multiple times before, that system is not a system. It’s broken. And we need a new one.”

According to Triple J, Federal Health Minister Susan Ley told the ABC she is currently formulating significant reforms for Australia’s mental health care system.

Stating the current system is “very difficult for a person who is perfectly well to perfectly navigate, let a person who is quite ill. We know it’s not working.”

Courtney’s passing is tragic, and is a clear example of the fact that mental illness can and does affect anyone, even those who appear to have the world at their feet.

That world they appear to be conquering may be caving in around them, and without the proper networks of support, there is a greater chance it will.

We look forward to seeing the positive changes that the mental health care reforms could make for people suffering with mental illness all around this country, with their release later this year.

You can listen to Taylor’s full interview with Hack here.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on:

Phone: 13 11 14

Or

Online: www.lifeline.org.au.

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