Campaign aims to tackle suicide

ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Last updated 05:00 14/09/2012
suicide

An awareness campaign to make young people "believe in themselves" has already captured public support just days after its launch.

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An awareness campaign to make young people "believe in themselves" has already captured public support just days after its launch.

Timaru youth tutor Christine Cummings launched the project called Making a Difference (MAD) this week.

Her motivation came after hearing about South Canterbury's alarmingly high suicide rate.

She designed wristbands, which are 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.

She launched the project on Monday and had at least 13 people buy the bands within the first two days.

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

Some of those friends are among the people already supporting MAD. Leah Westgarth is one of them.

"I reckon it's really beneficial. It's finally doing something . . . I can see it making a difference."

She said she had lost "too many" friends and believed it was time to start doing something about the problem.

"You can't deal with something when it's such a sheltered thing and no one wants to talk about it."

She said she did not want the issue "swept under the carpet".

Jess Anderson, who has also lost friends to suicide, said she supported the MAD concept because she believed that talking about it would help.

"I can't not talk about it. Every day I talk about it - I have to talk about it to keep me sane.

"Something's got to be done and if this is step number one, then this is awesome."

Mrs Cummings said she was pleased with the success of MAD so far and was grateful to those who had assisted.

Money raised from the wristbands will assist Adventure Development youth projects or the purchase of more bands.

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- The Timaru Herald

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