Event offers chance to connect about suicide

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A parent's nightmare . . . Corinda Taylor with a photo of her son, Ross, who took his own life in 2013. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Corinda Taylor’s world came crashing down on March 22, 2013.

It was the day her youngest son, Ross, took his own life. He was 20 years old.

“It’s an experience you don’t wish on your worst enemies.”

Now, four years on, Mrs Taylor, of Dunedin, said she would never fully recover from the tragedy, but she is putting her energy into trying to make sure others don’t live her nightmare.

In 2014, she called a public meeting to gauge public need for a suicide support and intervention group.

“I felt really isolated after his death. I didn’t know of anyone else who had been through what I had and I felt a real need to connect with people.

“I needed someone else who had lived that experience. I thought if I had that need, other people must have it also.”

Mrs Taylor established the organisation Life Matters, which focuses on bereavement support and suicide prevention.

On Sunday, Life Matters will be co-ordinating a service in recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day, at which 606 candles will be lit, reflecting the number of suicides in New Zealand in the past year.

Mrs Taylor said the increased number of suicides in the 2016-17 year was “appalling”.

Statistics released recently revealed 606 people committed suicide in the 12 months to June this year, up from 579 the previous year.

“There needs to be an urgency about the way suicide is addressed.

“We’re not supposed to use the word ‘epidemic’ because it creates fear, but our suicide numbers are out of proportion.”

The service on Sunday is at 6pm at St Paul’s Cathedral. It will be an opportunity to continue the conversation Mrs Taylor felt people avoided after the loss of her son.

“Going back to work was the hardest because people just didn’t know what to say to me.

“People just ignored me because they didn’t know how to talk about it. If my child had died from cancer or a car accident, it would have been a totally different story.”

Speakers from across New Zealand will address the gathering, including University of Otago’s Dr Damian Scarf, crisis negotiator Lance Burdett and author Trisha Hendry.

There will also be an opportunity for members of the public to speak about their experiences.

“We want people to reach out and for everyone to get the help they need. Zero suicide in New Zealand should not be an unrealistic goal.”

WHERE TO GET HELP

Lifeline: 800-543-354 or (09) 522-2999

Suicide Prevention Helpline:

Youthline: free text 234

Samaritans: 0800-726-666