Connect with us

My Weekly Preview

Nathan Taylor with wife Kattisha and children Kahlia, Schylar and Taj

News

Start talking

Caloundra dad and suicide survivor Nathan Taylor was gifted a second chance. Now, he is helping others.

Standing on the sidelines of the Sunshine Coast Stadium fields was a cold, wet and miserable place to be last Saturday afternoon, but Nathan Taylor couldn’t have been a happier man.

Like any good dad, he had rolled up with wife Kattisha to offer support and cheer on a daughter and son who were playing in their respective junior rugby union grand finals at Bokarina.

The father of three was focused on enjoying the sporting spectacle unfolding, grateful for the joy and memories his children were giving him. He knows he is worthy of such special moments in life.

Gratitude, being present and having self-love are three tools that he has learnt to use to mend, heal and create a new mindset following his darkest day in 2004.

In the lead-up to R U OK? Day on Thursday, September 8, the Little Mountain man is sharing his story as a suicide survivor because he wants to make a positive impact on helping others.

Nathan realises the raw reality of lived experiences like his own can start conversations about mental health, managing anxiety and overcoming depression so that other dads, mums, friends, neighbours and colleagues can get on with living and savouring life’s simple pleasures. As the R U OK? Day slogan shouts loudly and clearly: “A conversation could change a life”.

On the Sunshine Coast, suicide rates are 9.1 per cent above the national average.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (aihw.gov.au) reports these tragic national facts and statistics:

  • In 2020, there were 2384 suicide deaths in males (18.6 per 100,000 people, up from 16.2 in 2011) and 755 suicide deaths for females (5.8 per 100,000 people, up from 5.1 in 2011).
  • Males are more likely to die by suicide, and by more violent means, than females.
  • Females are hospitalised for intentional self-harm (with and without suicidal intent) almost twice as frequently as males.
  • The highest proportion of deaths by suicide occur during mid-life. More than half (52 per cent) in 2020 occurred in people aged 30–59 (1637 deaths), compared with 24 per cent for those aged 15–29, and 23 per cent for those aged 60 and over.
  • In 2020, the highest suicide rate for males occurred in those aged 85 and over (36.2 deaths per 100,000 population).
  • Men aged between 40–54 accounted for over one quarter (27 per cent) of deaths by suicide by males. The highest suicide rate for women was in those aged 45–49 (9.6 deaths per 100,000 population) accounting for the highest proportion of deaths by suicide for females (10.9 per cent).

Each statistic represents a person with friends, loved ones and a community grieving their loss. Yet, every death by suicide is preventable.

As the product of a broken home, Nathan, the founder of the Comunite’z charity and Zak’s Comunite’z Facebook page, admits he had struggled mentally as an adult but “hit rock bottom” in 2004 after a previous marriage breakup.

He tried to take his own life in the middle of the night. His stepfather heard a noise, found him and saved his life.

“I created the belief structures from a young age,” Nathan, now 44, says, matter-of-factly.

“Mum was 18 and dad was 20 when they had me. It (their relationship) didn’t last. Dad had nothing to do with me.

“I was raised by my grandparents and bounced sometimes to my mum and back to my grandparents. I have a great relationship with my mum now. My father, I never really had a relationship with him. He died quite a few years ago.

“I grew up as a kid just wanting to have that family that I never had. Then it all went to sh*t and all those things that happened just reinforced the belief structures that I’d created – that I wasn’t worthy of love, wasn’t good enough. It just got to be too much.

“At the end of the day, I can’t believe that I would have missed out on everything I’ve got now if he (his stepfather) had been a little bit later. A friend of mine said to me that his mum always used to say: ‘Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem’. And it really is.”

Nathan believes the stigma associated with depression and a lack of education about how to have open and honest conversations with at-risk loved ones are the constraints to Australia curbing its “heartbreaking” suicide statistics.

He recommends the free four-hour safeTALK suicide alertness workshop, developed by LivingWorks Australia, offering participants practical knowledge of how to identify someone at risk of suicide and link them to life-saving services.

The next program locally is on Tuesday, September 20, at 10am at the University of the Sunshine Coast Sports precinct (go to eventbrite.com.au and search for safeTALK Sunshine Coast).

“That just helps you with the language, what to do and how to keep somebody safe for now and be able to connect them into the support they need,” Nathan says.

“We should be talking about it just like people talk about the flu season.

“We’ve got to support people to harness their resilience and know that it’s okay and they’re going to get through it.”

Over his healing process, Nathan learned not to “sweat the small stuff” – if you can’t control it, can’t change it, don’t worry about it – and started to see his life as one big book.

“There’s lots of different chapters and lots of different pages,” he says.

“Just because one chapter is a tough one, it doesn’t mean the next one can’t be amazing. I truly believe that.”

But his resolve was tested after October 23, 2012. His extended family was rocked by the death of Kattisha’s cousin’s son Zak to suicide. He was just 12 years old.

Nathan Taylor, Comunite’z

Nathan made a promise to do “something” to keep Zak’s memory alive. But in the lead-up to his 40th birthday, when a good friend on the Coast also was lost to suicide, Nathan admits “that was the kick up the bum” he needed to act.

I thought, ‘What if he had known about me?’ Maybe he could have thought, ‘Well, Nathan might understand. I might be able to go and talk to him’.

“Maybe he wouldn’t have.  You just don’t know because it’s suicide and there’s all those ‘what ifs’; there’s all those unanswered questions.”

Nathan started Zak’s Comunite’z page on February 1, 2018, to share positive thoughts and encouragement, and as a platform “where people can come to and speak honestly and openly about suicide, depression and anxiety where you can feel supported and free from judgment”.

The French spelling of ‘community’ was combined with the word ‘unite’ to express the heartfelt goal of unity for life, with the ‘Z’ on the end to honour Zak.

Now the Sunshine Coast-based Comunite’z charity Nathan created aims to build resilient youth through activities that educate, engage and connect, support their physical and mental wellbeing and foster suicide prevention.

“I get messages  and comments or people will write a private message to me and say, ‘Thank you. I needed that today’.

“Then there’s the work we do behind the scenes: we are currently supporting a teenage boy and his family with professional counselling.

“We’ve got another workshop coming up next month at Dicky Beach Surf Club all about self-care – Wednesday, September 14, from 6 to 8pm in the training room downstairs. I know this is making an impact. Even if I positively impact one person, then it’s all worth it.”

Nathan bravely shares his own story with the wider community, believing – as American architect, inventor and philosopher Richard Buckminster Fuller once said – that we all have a responsibility to use our lived experience to the highest advantage of others.

“I just want to be a positive role model and show that life gets better. You’re in so much pain and you’re not thinking clear. That’s where I was. I couldn’t face life.

“I remember it like it was yesterday. But as much as I was so upset, because I knew I was going to miss my family and I loved everybody, I didn’t think I was worthy.

“I was hurting so much that I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t want to pick myself up and do the work to get myself going again. If people feel, ‘Hey I can get through this, somebody’s got my back, it’s going to be okay’ – they know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’m very fortunate that (depression) is really a long way in my past now. I’m a healthy, happy, normal dad and husband. If I can do it, anybody can do it.”

If someone’s life is in danger call 000 or take them straight to emergency at a hospital. If you are struggling, call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800 or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636.

Visit comunitez.com.au, facebook.com/groups/557687517910748 (Zak’s Comunite’z) and ruok.org.au

 

R U OK? DAY

This is our national day of action to remind ourselves to ask “R U OK?” and start a meaningful conversation whenever we spot the signs that someone may be struggling in their life. If you have a feeling that someone you know or care about isn’t behaving as they normally would, trust your gut feeling and act on it.

  1. Ask “R U OK?”: be relaxed, friendly and concerned. Mention specific reasons such as, “You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?” If you are not in the right headspace or believe you are not the right person to have the conversation, seek out someone who can.
  2. Listen with an open mind: Take what they say seriously and don’t rush or judge them.
  3. Encourage action: suggest ways of managing their feelings by asking what may have helped in the past or how you can support them, and encourage them to do something relaxing or enjoyable. If they continue to feel down, suggest they see a health professional.
  4. Stay in touch and be there for them: Pop a reminder in the diary to call or catch up to see if they are feeling better.

For more, visit ruok.org.au

mm

After 40 years of working with words, Shirley Sinclair remains a passionate storyteller, championing community causes and bringing a world of travel to readers’ doorsteps. Reporting, subediting, designing and editing newspapers and magazines led to roles online and as a university journalism tutor. Shirley joined Sunshine Coast News as an online journalist, travel editor and digital producer in April 2021 and is a My Weekly Preview features writer/subeditor.

More in News

Our Sister Publications

Sunshine Coast News Your Time Magazine Salt Magazine
To Top