'Queen of Selfies' leaves her mother in shock

ANNA PEARSON
Last updated 05:00 25/08/2014
Jordan Tuki's family

SHOCKED: The family of Jordan Tuki, from left to right, sister Sam Aldridge, auntie Estelle Reid and mother Rachael Wright.

Jordan Tuki
CHANGED OVERNIGHT: Jordan Tuki, 16, died of a suspected suicide this month.

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Rachael Wright desperately wishes she could hit rewind.

She wishes she could change the day her 16-year-old daughter decided to take her own life.

Jordan "Bubba" Tuki, of Christchurch, died of a suspected suicide at her home on August 13.

Wright has not been able to return to the Burnside address since.

The 47-year-old wants to share her story in the hope it will prevent other young lives being lost in the same way.

"If I can reach out to at least one person and save [their] life . . . that would make me feel good," she said.

Wright said her daughter, whose funeral was last Tuesday, was bubbly, cuddly and "the Queen of Selfies".

"She was always hacking into my Facebook and saying [in status updates], 'Jordan is my favourite child'. I lost count of how many 'best friends' she had," she said.

Jordan "loved" intermediate and "hardly ever missed a day", but when she hit high school, "things started going downhill".

"She would get into trouble because she would lash out. She would come home . . . angry. She would take things to heart," Wright said.

Jordan started smoking, "experimenting" with alcohol, getting into fights and bunking school.

"She just changed overnight. She was not academic, but she wasn't a dummy either," Wright said.

Her daughter started self-harming at the end of last year and Wright got the Psychiatric Emergency Service involved.

At 15, in March, Jordan left Burnside High School to attend Christchurch Academy.

She "absolutely loved it" at first, but stopped going a few days before she died, Wright said.

Jordan's death had left her "totally lost", she said.

"Have you ever seen those advertisements on TV when someone is sitting down and everything is fast-forwarding around them? I don't know what to do. I feel like the walking dead. I'm broken."

On the evening of August 13, Jordan was "a bit emotional" and went upstairs to her room, Wright said.

When Wright had finished cooking dinner, she went upstairs to get "Bubba", who often napped at that time.

"As soon as I opened the door . . . I knew what she had done. The rest is just a blur," she said.

Only weeks before Jordan's death, for her 16th birthday, she got two words tattooed on her arm: "Whanau Tuatahi."

It means, "Family First".

Jordan left behind a 12-year-old brother and two older siblings.

Wright wishes she could bring her daughter back.

"I have got all this guilt. I can't believe that I didn't pick up on how sad she was. I have so many questions. She always told me she would never [kill herself] because of her nieces and nephews," she said.

"I just want . . . to say, 'If you are feeling that bad reach out and talk to somebody'. I would not want to wish this on even my worst enemy."

Jordan's 24-year-old sister, Sam Aldridge, said: "You can't play the blame game. At the end of the day, nobody knows what she was thinking. At the end of the day, we're all just left wondering why."

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HIGH SCHOOL 'VIGILANT'

One of New Zealand's largest secondary schools has been "vigilant" in the wake of a former student's suspected suicide, its acting principal says.

Jordan Tuki, 16, died at her home in Burnside, Christchurch, on August 13.

Burnside High School acting principal Sandra Sidaway said the school's emergency team met as soon as it became aware of Jordan's death.

"We informed all staff and asked them to be vigilant in watching out for students who were upset or at risk. We informed students of the support that was available for them."

Jordan left high school in March to attend Christchurch Academy but still had friends at Burnside, she said.

"We emailed all parents and whanau and asked them to be vigilant about the welfare of their own students, provided contact details for our counsellors or recommended that they contacted their own GP if they had any concerns.

"We also were extra vigilant about following up on unexplained absences of students who were known to be at risk or who were Jordan's friends."

Youth suicide numbers (those aged under 24) dropped from 144 to 110 in the year ending June 30 2014, new figures show, but children as young as 10 are still taking their own lives.

Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean told The Press last week that teenage suicide cases were "some of the toughest and most tragic cases coroners deal with".

Many followed "very similar patterns" and an enduring theme in cases seen by the coroner's office was "the apparent impulsive nature" of young people, MacLean said.

Triggers for self-harming included relationship break-ups or victims receiving "nasty" text messages, he said.

Community Action on Suicide Prevention and Education Research (CASPER) operations manager Leteisha Cornes, 23, whose brother took his own life when he was 16, is pushing for widespread and frank discussion on the topic to help reduce the country's "horrifying" statistics.

Her views are shared by MacLean, who said it was now "largely discredited" that talking about the background circumstances of a suicide would lead to copycat behaviour.

"Communities are wanting to know more not from prurient interest but to better understand what is really going on and be better able to support those who are struggling," MacLean said.

Last year, the Law Commission was asked to review the statutory rules governing the media's reporting of individual suicide deaths. The commission was asked to consider whether existing legislation struck the appropriate balance between "the benefits of freedom of speech and the public health goals of reducing suicide deaths".

It released 14 recommendations in March this year, which the Government accepted.

Among those recommendations was that the media could report a suicide or suspected suicide had occurred, if the facts supported it, before a coroner's ruling.

Talking about the method or the place in which it occurred, if they suggested a certain method, would remain off limits.

MacLean said the changes were "a move in the right direction", but hoped the subject would be "further liberalised" as time went on.

FOR HELP

Lifeline - 0800 543 354

Depression Helpline (8 am to 12 midnight) - 0800 111 757

Kidsline (aimed at children up to 14 years of age; 4 pm to 6 pm weekdays) - 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline)

Suicide Crisis Helpline (aimed at those in distress, or those who are concerned about the wellbeing of someone else; 12 noon to 12 midnight) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz

Samaritans - 0800 726 666 www.thelowdown.co.nz - visit the website, email team@thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626 (emails and text messages will be responded to between 12 noon and 12 midnight) 

If it is an emergency or you feel you or someone you know is at risk, please call 111

For information about suicide prevention, see http://www.spinz.org.nz.

- The Press

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