Bid to raise young people's self-belief

Last updated 05:00 19/06/2012

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A woman close to many of South Canterbury's young suicide victims is doing her bit to make a difference.

Timaru youth tutor Christine Cummings has established a project called Making a Difference (MAD), a concept designed to make young people "believe in themselves".

To do this she will market wristbands, which will be available for purchase in packs of two. One is worn by the person who buys the pack and the other is given to a person who they feel has, can, or will make a difference to their life.

Mrs Cummings was motivated to do something after three of her former students committed suicide. She has seen the effect their deaths have had on fellow tutors, the victims' families and friends.

"Mainly, I just got angry – I thought `enough'.

"It is my hope that (each wristband recipient) will gain an understanding that they have impacted on another's life, and therefore have value to someone else. So, should they get down and they cannot find any self-value, the message from the band may be enough to reassure them that someone else sees their value.

"I think the problem with the youth culture is people don't know how much other people care about them."

Youth often found it difficult to express how much someone means to them using words, which gave her the idea of using the wristbands as a symbol, she said.

Mrs Cummings said she supported Timaru GP Ollie Bourke, who spoke out last week about the need to talk about suicide.

"I think there is such a stigma around it. People shut down and people tend to pretend it's not happening, but it's up to the community to help if they can. And not all help's going to be the right thing for the same person, but you've got to try."

She said it was not healthy for people to bottle up their thoughts on the issue.

"It's OK to discuss it and be angry about it.

"I don't believe discussing it within closed ranks is going to impact on the kids."

Mrs Cummings needs $1000 to kick-start her project. So far she has $200 from Aoraki Polytechnic and $20 from an anonymous donor. The money will go towards more wristbands and, if enough is raised, she will also donate to a prevention group.

For more information or to make a donation, phone her on 027 428 7316.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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