Jessica Huggard cherishes a photo taken with her younger brother Luke in 2015 at Melbourne Airport as it would be the last time the siblings ever saw each other.
Two years later, Mr. Huggard, then 32 years old, is allegedly committed suicide in April 2017 at a notorious suicide spot in Sydney’s eastern suburbs called The Gap.
His body has never been found and no inquest has been launched into his death, so he has not been declared legally dead and his family cannot properly say goodbye to him with a funeral.
Nearly six years after his death, his sister is one petition to get an inquest from the NSW Coroner’s Court and a death certificate.
“He deserves better than this,” said Mrs. Huggard.
Luke Huggard (left) and his sister Jessica are photographed at Melbourne Airport in 2015 before flying to Sydney. She never saw him again
“My brother came in and lit up a room. He could talk to anyone. He was full of life and smiling.
A beloved brother
Luke Huggard grew up in Melbourne, where he studied art and then studied journalism as a postgraduate.
‘He was great. My brother was a really charismatic, 6’1″ tall, very gay man and he grew up in a world that didn’t accept that,” said his sister Jessica.
In 2015, he moved to Sydney to study law and found a home in the city’s gay scene.
Luke Huggard is depicted as a young man
But Mr. Huggard, who had long battled mental illness, began taking drugs.
At the time of his disappearance, his sister said she had been clean for some time but was on medication.
She believes he was in a withdrawal-induced psychosis when he committed suicide.
“Two weeks before he died, he had a job, bought animals again, had his own apartment. He was functioning, he was clean and happy,” Ms Huggard said.
“He laughed… it was really loud and it was a smile on his stomach,” she shared 7News.
Three days before he was last seen alive, Mr. Huggard was arrested by the police as he took his own life at the same spot.
He was later taken to Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick and admitted to an acute mental health unit as an involuntary patient.
A report from NSW Health and obtained by the family said Mr Huggard was suicidal, had delusions and had withdrawn from taking drugs.
“He experienced anxiety and agitation, which was felt in the context of amphetamine withdrawal,” the report said.
Mr Huggard was assessed by a psychiatrist on 4 April and, no longer suffering from delusions and suicidal thoughts, was discharged.
He was referred to the GP, but did not show up. Hospital staff were the last to see him alive.
That night CCTV caught someone fitting Mr. Huggard’s description taking his own life in The Gap.
He was reported missing by a friend the next day.
On April 17, nearly two weeks after his disappearance, police contacted the hospital to notify them of his presumed death, although they did not have a body.
Despite this, Mr. Huggard is still on the Australian Federal Police missing persons list six years later.
After a police investigation found he was probably dead, his case was referred to the coroner in 2018.
The family hasn’t heard much since then answers about why he was released from the hospital on his own and why the family was not notified when he was admitted to the mental health unit.
“It’s not about blaming someone for his death, it’s about finding out what happened in the last two days,” Ms Huggard said.
She’s had enough of waiting.
“You have everything in writing to say he’s dead. There’s plenty of evidence out there,” she said.
The family, whose trauma has been exacerbated by the uncertainty and waiting, wants an inquest and a death certificate so they can hold a funeral.
“It feels like we’re being punished for something that’s just a tragic situation all around,” Ms Huggard said.
“All I’m asking is a coroner to notice and stop telling me it’s going to be another six months.”
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
For more information about depression, please contact beyond blue on 1300224636 or talk to your doctor, a healthcare professional or a trusted friend.
Jessica Huggard (right) is pictured with a protective arm around her brother Luke when they were kids
Luke Huggard’s body (pictured) has never been found and there has been no inquest, so he has not been declared legally dead and his family cannot properly say goodbye to him with a funeral