Marty’s Story by Lauren Graham
The content in this article contains references to suicide, if you are feeling distressed please call the Samaritans for free now on 116 123
On the 31st of August 2018, my twin brother and best friend Marty, decided to take his own life. He had been battling depression for what seemed like only a short while compared to some, but a battle that has left a lasting, hanging hole and question in my family and our community. How? Why?
Marty was a talented chef and contributed so much to our community and the hospitality sector wherever he went. He was adored by people around the world as he travelled and cooked from place to place. He was an exceptionally hard worker, a committed twin, chef, brother, son and friend and a wildly exuberant character to be around.
His ambition from primary school was to be “a famous chef like Aristos” and he was in the kitchen with family from a young age. Marty left high school in year 11 to begin his chef apprenticeship in a well known restaurant in Perth, Australia and went on to work as a chef and sous chef for various establishments in Perth and overseas. He had an amazing work ethic and we can’t recall him ever missing a day of work out of fear of letting down the restaurant and his teammates and his passion for making people happy through food.
He would sometimes confide how overworked he felt, but would say that it came with the job and there’s nothing anyone could do if he wanted to maintain a good reputation in the industry when I encouraged him to take steps to destress. He was a tired, lonely but passionate chef that tried a few times to leave the industry but always returned out of his love for cooking that he claimed made up for the pressures of the kitchen. He knew he was an excellent cook and he boasted about eventually running his own restaurant with his home grown food and ideas as he proudly spoke about curating menus that were “sexy” and “exciting”.
Marty was known as Party Marty around the world due to his ability to cheer people up and make any situation fun. He was a simple man that didn’t need much to survive. He knew how to be generous and kind and he knew how to be cheeky and loveable. He truly was a gentle soul. But he refused to speak about his mental illness in greater detail than he should have. He would often let people in just enough to know he was struggling, but push them away just as quickly. I don’t think he really knew where to turn or who to relate to as none of us truly understood what goes on inside the mad chaos of a service or the aftermath of a long shift where everyone else is safely tucked away in bed. He tried medication, he tried to talk to professionals. He wanted to get better, he admitted he didn’t want to feel this way but just could not find a solution that worked for him and his crazy busy lifestyle. I tried tirelessly to empathise and help, but I still could not understand what went on deep inside his heart. I think if he knew other men in the industry were going through the same thoughts, he would not feel so segregated and alone. Maybe he would have opened up to more people, we will never know.
His final few months were where he seemed to be on top of it all. Finally a new job with some time free to socialise but still pursue his ambition to lead in the kitchen. A new exciting city with a love prospect and plans to travel again. Reconnecting with family and friends.
Mental illness can catch anyone at any time in their lives. It needs to be more understood and spoken about, daily. There needs to be more thought and action put into the treatment and understanding of this disease. Particularly in my experiences, with young men in the hospitality industry. A tough, high pressured industry that can seem like it has unrealistic expectations and there’s no way through. Let’s create a safe space where anyone from this industry can unwind and talk it out together.
Marty is incredibly missed daily. His cheeky laugh and smile is forever thought of. His passion for food and curating new menus is remembered with every meal and his love of making people laugh is a legacy that can only be admired. Help us break the stigma by agreeing to look after yourself and others now.
If you are feeling distressed please call the Samaritans for free now on 116 123