Chris Ugle suffered years of despair, aberrant behaviour, depression and suicidal thoughts after he lost both his parents in the same year.
Trouble began in his early teen years, but it spiralled out of control when both his parents died 11 years ago. He was 19 at the time, reports news.com.au.
The Darwin local spent most of his young life in trouble with the police, turning to crime and drugs to "numb the pain".
"My father had a massive heart attack and my mother died of cancer in the same year and that's what took its toll on me," Mr Ugle said.
"I went off the rails. I got involved in the wrong crowd and was doing the wrong things, I involved in criminal activity and getting into trouble with police while under the influence of alcohol and drugs," he said.
Mr Ugle, now 30, said during this period of his life, he lost his self worth, did not feel settled and had no structure.
At 19, he ended up in Perth's Hakea Prison for burglary, describing his time in jail as "horrific" and "shocking".
But he repeated the same offence three years ago.
"I was highly strung out on meth every day. It was my whole lifestyle," he said.
"Having drugs, handing over drugs, doing all the bad stuff. It's all real, whatever people think happens, happens.
"You're doing anything just to get a hit and that's the sort of lifestyle I was living just three years ago."
The father-of-one said he suffered from suicidal thoughts the moment he lost both parents.
"I was still hanging around bad people. If people in the criminal system can see you have no one to turn to, they leech onto you and suck the life out of you and that's what was happening to me — I was getting the life sucked out of me.
"I had nowhere to go, no family, no friends."
According to Gerry Georgatos, national co-ordinator of the National Indigenous Critical Response Service, in the first year after release, inmates are up to 10 times more likely to suicide or die unnaturally compared to their time in jail.
"It is in the first four to six weeks that a significant proportion die unnaturally. In my work with suicide-affected families, we experience such tragedies regularly," he told news.com.au
Data released last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed that suicide in Australia is at a 10-year high, jumping from 2866 deaths in 2016 to 3128 people having died by suicide last year.
"I have been warning every year for the last decade that the national suicide toll, and attempts, will increase and I expect that the 2018 toll to be even higher," Mr Georgatos said, explaining one of the highest risk groups are former inmates soon after leaving prison.
Mr Ugle said given his experiences, he is not at all surprised at the alarming statistics surrounding inmates and suicide.
"If they get out of jail and society and their family rejects them, they are going to get back on the drugs, they are going to get back into criminal activity and if that doesn't work, guess what, they are going to neck themselves or overdose.
"I've seen it and heard it all."
But his life turned around when he got a suspended sentence for his most recent charge, crediting the Ngalla Maya program for supporting him mentally, psychologically and equipping him with life skills.
It is a program that offers former inmates and those at risk of being incarcerated a chance to become qualified in industries and placed in employment — and because of it, the scaffolder recently completed 12 certificates at the Skills Training and Engineering Services in Bibra Lake and has been clean for 18 months.
"Those who are thinking that their lives are at an end or (that there's) no hope left, I just want to say there is light at the end of the tunnel," Mr Ugle said.
"It's never too late but changes don't happen unless you make the change and Ngalla Maya is bound by that, even if it's that one step."
The Federal Government-funded Ngalla Maya Aboriginal Corporation aims to achieve up to 80 success stories over three years, however it achieved this in less than one year.
"They set a national record because the bar was so low, and it's an indictment of everyone, of COAG, that programs such as this have not been massively invested in to turn lives around, to reduce reoffending, to change lives, to save lives, to reduce the suicide toll," Mr Georgatos said.
"Thanks to the Federal Minister (for Indigenous Affairs) Nigel Scullion we were given a chance to make a big difference. Now we need investment 20 times more to help the many and not just some. All the states and territory governments must invest in changing lives."
Mr Ugle said it's not about looking for a handout.
"We just want to be able to expand the program so it can help save more lives, like it did mine."
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.
If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:
DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234
There are lots of places to get support. For others, click here.