Former police detective Carl Voller has won an award for a short story he wrote about suicide inspired by the deaths of his father and a workmate. Photo Patrick Woods
Former police detective Carl Voller has won an award for a short story he wrote about suicide inspired by the deaths of his father and a workmate. Photo Patrick Woods

Former detective’s pain wins him writing award

THE suicide of his father and a workmate led a former Coast detective to pour his heartache onto paper and win an esteemed writing award.

Carl Voller, 61, spent 32 years in the police force including 10 years working as a detective finding justice for child victims and teaching them about safety.

He found teaching was his true calling and enrolled at the University of the Sunshine Coast in 2014 to study secondary teaching and creative writing.

"Nearly every shift as a police officer at Maroochydore I would end up in the back of an ambulance trying to talk someone out of suicide," Mr Voller said.

"My father committed suicide, my workmate committed suicide, I've had suicidal thoughts because of what I've been exposed to and one day my 13-year-old son told me he didn't want to live anymore which really rocked me because I was terrified to lose another family member to suicide.

"These experiences inspired me to write a short story about generational suicide."

Former police detective Carl Voller pictured with his son Michael Voller, 13. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.
Former police detective Carl Voller pictured with his son Michael Voller, 13. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.

Mr Voller's story Children of Suicide has won him the Gary Crew Award for Creative Writing.

The father-of-12 said it was a story written by Gary Crew that initially inspired him to enrol in a creative writing degree.

USC Creative Writing academic Dr Paul Williams will present Mr Voller with the award on Monday during a creative writing lecture.

"I've been trying to win the award for years but there's tough competition because it's open to honours and PhD students as well as undergrads," Mr Voller said.

"I think what got me there this year was writing with so much passion and writing about something I knew so well.

"It was hard reliving those experiences and I shed tears as I wrote it but it was also therapeutic and healing."

Mr Voller said suicide was a controversial subject but he wanted to inspire others to talk about their mental health struggles.

"My story is about something really important and suicide rips families apart," he said.

"People who are exposed to it need help and they need hope.

"Only in talking about suicide will someone find hope for a better future."

If you or someone you know needs support for issues mentioned in this story, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.