FOUR years ago, Tiana Ruckert’s life changed forever.
Her bubbly best friend Shae, who was just 15 years old, committed suicide.
“I was the one who found her,” the Rockhampton woman said.
“That made it a lot harder, but it was also the reason why I wanted to make a change.”
And with a simple idea, she has achieved this not only in Central Queensland, but across Australia.
Tiana took the seven warning signs of suicide, printed them on business cards and distributed them to the public whenever and wherever she could.
“I think there is a gap,” she said.
“Shae didn’t seek help or tell anyone, so she didn’t get any help from the programs that so much funding goes towards.
“Looking back now, I wonder if maybe I knew the signs I could’ve helped her.
“If friends and family know what to look for then they can get them to those programs.”
Tiana agreed that sometimes there were no signs, but said it was still something important to be aware of.
As secretary of the CQ Leos, a junior branch of the Rockhampton Lions Club, Tiana shared the idea with other groups and soon it was a national project of Leos Australia.
Recently, Tiana was chosen to participate in Propeller, a joint initiative by The Foundation for Young Australians and Samsung Electronics Australia.
Propeller celebrates the social change projects of young people.
Tiana said a video was made about her project, as well 13 others.
The videos were played at the Propeller launch in Melbourne last week, which Tiana attended.
“Over the past three years these cards have got to way more people than I thought we could,” she said.
She said her next goal was to get the cards distributed through schools for Years 10-12.
“Then even further down the track I’d like to have some training available for students in grade 12 on how to notice the signs,” she said.
“As horrible an experience as it was, I like to think this is bringing out a positive.
“Often when I feel like giving up I feel a little push and I think it’s her (Shae) saying ‘keep going’.”
To view the video visit www.propellerproject.com.au/projects/alive.
Seven warning signs
- Making direct or indirect threats about committing suicide
- Dramatic changes in personality, appearance or mood
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- A dramatic drop in performance at school or work
- Feelings of guilt or low self-esteem
- Saying goodbye and giving personal belongings away
- Withdrawing from friends and family
This article first appeared on ‘The Sunshine Coast Daily’ on 15 April 2014.