A grieving young mother has bravely opened up about her landscape designer partner’s battle with drug addiction and depression that led him to take his own life.
Friends knew Leigh Hinkley, 30, from Melbourne, as a devoted family man who loved to make everyone smile. But his good-natured personality hid personal demons.
Leigh, the father of two young children, Patrick, three, and Harrison, six months, committed suicide on February 21.
That has prompted her partner of eight years, Whitley Fleet, to speak about the importance of checking on family and friends, especially men, who “find it hard to express their feelings.”
Ms Fleet was the last person Leigh spoke to, hours before her body was found in south-east Melbourne.
“It’s something you don’t wish on anyone,” Ms Fleet told Daily Mail Australia.
‘My world has been turned upside down.’
Leigh Hinkley (right) took her own life in February. She is survived by her longtime partner of hers Whitney and her young sons Patrick and Harrison.
She detected troubling signs a week before that Leigh wasn’t himself and tried in vain to convince him to open up to her.
Mrs. Fleet will never forget her last phone call just before 7 pm on February 20. “I was the last person Leigh spoke to,” she recalled.
“He had sent me a goodbye message, which was really distressing.
“I spoke to him on the phone to tell him that everything would be fine and I asked him where he was.”
But he refused to tell me where he was and kept saying he was sorry. That was more or less all.
The next morning, Mrs. Fleet received a call asking her to go to the police station.
“I came down thinking I was going to be there,” he said.
“The first thing I wanted to do was hug him and tell him that the kids and I love him.”
“When they sat me down and said that I had died, I fell to the ground. I couldn’t believe it and was in shock for the next few days.
Whitney Fleet and Leigh Hinkley (pictured) were together for eight years
Leigh (pictured with partner Whitney and son Patrick) battled depression and drug addiction.
She described Mr. Hinkley as caring and always up for a joke and a laugh.
“He was always known as a fun and witty person who wanted to make everyone smile,” said Ms Fleet.
But her whole life has been tinged with sadness.
“He lost his mother when he was three years old, so he was traumatized by the loss and other things that had happened during his childhood.”
Mr. Hinkley battled drug addiction and mental health issues for 10 years.
“He would hide it from me or lie about it and never express to me or anyone how he felt,” Fleet said.
“In the end, the depression was too much for him and it pushed him over the edge.”
Hours before he died, Hinkley posted heartbreaking final messages to his family on Facebook.
“You will never understand how much I love you Whitney, even so I hurt you, lied to you, stole from you, destroyed everything,” she wrote.
I’m sorry you never deserved that. I love you Bubby. I can not live without you.
Leigh Hinkley uploaded a heartbreaking final post to her partner hours before she died
A year ago, Leigh Hinkley and her partner were preparing for the arrival of their second child
Ms. Fleet’s current focus is raising her two children and teaching them that it is okay to express their emotions.
“I want them to grow up and be able to tell me how they feel and not have to hold back all the time,” she said.
More than 150 people attended Hinkley’s funeral last week, where mourners were urged to make a donation to mental health support organization Beyond Blue in lieu of flowers.
Friends have described Mr. Hinkley as one of the funniest people they have ever met.
‘What a man, what a character, you always made me laugh, brother. You will be sorely missed and will never forget you,’ wrote a colleague.
Another friend added: “My heart aches knowing that I will never speak to you again, that you won’t be able to see your children grow up, and that we have lost you, Leigh Bear.” There will always be a special place in my heart for you. I’m sorry you thought this world wasn’t for you.
Friends and family have rallied around Mrs. Fleet and have established a online fundraising to help ease some of the financial burden while she grieves.
‘Leigh was her main provider because Whitney was a stay-at-home mom. All money raised will go towards funeral costs, rent and bills, food for the family and essential supplies for the children,” she states.
Leigh Hinkley (right) also posted heartbreaking final messages for her sons Patrick (left) and Harrison.
Whitney Fleet (right) was the last person to speak to her partner Leigh (left) before she died.
The fundraiser organized by the mother of Mrs. Fleet’s best friend has raised nearly $14,000 so far.
“Before all this happened, I was looking to return to work in the next few months to help out with the bills,” Ms Fleet said.
‘The support has been incredible. It means I can take a few more months to process what happened.
Now he urges others who are struggling mentally not to be ashamed to speak up.
“Get help and contact anyone,” he said.
“Mental health is a big problem, especially among men, who find it difficult to express their feelings.”
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline 131 114 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.
Whitney hopes that sharing Leigh’s story (pictured with her son Patrick) will inspire others struggling with their inner demons to speak up and seek help.
Leigh Hinkley battled drug addiction and depression for at least ten years.