Meet the Team

Corinda

“Hello, I am Corinda Taylor. My most important job is that as a mother and wife. I lost my beloved son Ross, aged twenty, to suicide in March 2013 due to failures of the system and individuals. Because I believe that Ross’ suicide could have been prevented and due to the lack of support after his suicide I called a public meeting to connect with like-minded people.

I am the founding member and chair of the Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust. My aim is to make sure that nobody should struggle to get help when they ask for it. From this end a petition was started with Denise’s help and we delivered it to the House of Representatives and have respectfully requested a comprehensive independent nationwide Inquiry into Mental Health Services to be conducted to determine if current services meet the requirements and if future planning is adequate to meet future demand. Currently this is the only way to get an inquiry to happen and we hope that the growing nationwide support will help us to make sure that nobody should die in despair and alone in the health care system. Zero suicide in health care is my aim”.

Denise

“Kia ora, my name is Denise Kent and I’m the mother of four grown up children, Kai Tahu. The Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust is something that is dear to my heart as me and my whanua have lost people dear to us to suicide. I have also had my own journey bringing up my children alone and having to seek counselling for a time and that is probably what has taken me to this area of peer support and work. I have been involved in Life Line for five years as a counsellor and trainer as well as the Tough Love programme once again for five years as a buddy and trainer.

My area of work is peer support and advocacy. It has not been always easy for me as a mum, raising my children and at times also struggled to get them through their own black dog. I’m really passionate about the Life Matters’ philosophy and was involved right from the start at the very first meeting and a founding member. My role in Life Matters is public speaking, delivering safetalk, peer support and organising events. My wish is that we do not have to do this and that eventually we will have zero suicide”.

Garry

“Dia dhuit (Hi). My name is Garry McLennan, I’m the proud father of seven, the eldest being thirty six and my youngest ten years.I am Northern Irish and moved to NZ in 2001. Throughout my life I have lost friends and had a couple near tragedies in my immediate family to suicide.

Depression and mental illness are issues I am very passionate about and I’m excited to be a trustee of The Suicide Prevention Trust. I am also an Ambassador of Tribal Nations Motorcycle Club who are Riders Against Teenage Suicide (R.A.T.S).I enjoy working with like minded people to help promote suicide awareness and always happy and ready to help if I can”.

Carolyn

“Hi there, my name is Carolyn McMillan. Ten years ago the unthinkable happened and I lost my only sibling, Fiona, to suicide. As devastating as it was it made me realise that I wanted to make a difference, and also reduce the stigma surrounding suicide. I didn’t know how I was going to do that but knew in time the opportunity would arise. The opportunity that arose was Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust, it fitted with my beliefs in that I believe that prevention is important and vital, as well as education.

I am now honoured to be a trustee and the treasurer of Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust. I have a passion for making a difference, having suffered debilitating depression and anxiety myself, and losing a loved one to suicide. It is not easy juggling being a full-time working mum with a two and four-year old, but if I can make a difference then it is certainly worth it.”

Rachel

“Kia ora, I’m Rachel Billington and I’m from Tamaki Makaurau. I am an auntie to five beautiful kids and step-mum to three awesome boys. I have lost two cousins to suicide and have witnessed the ongoing devastation rippling through my whanau for ten years.

I have a Graduate Diploma of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Art History.

I am honoured to be working with Life Matters since moving to Dunedin and have recently completed safeTALK training. I am excited to help Life Matters bring all of our voices to the Mental Health Inquiry and pursue our goal of Zero Suicide.”

Jean

“Kia ora,
My name is Jean Balchin, and I’m a 23 year-old English honours student at the University of Otago. I am a passionate advocate for suicide prevention and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Three years ago, my brother John died from suicide. He was only eighteen years old. Through my writing and public speaking, I can reach out to others, help those struggling and save lives. Talking about suicide and mental health struggles opens up communication about a topic that is often kept a secret. These secrets, exposed to the bright light of day, often lose their power.

I am excited about jumping on board with Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust. I have spent the last year or two volunteering for this wonderful organization – in September 2016, on my brother’s anniversary, I shaved my hair off in a fundraiser. Last year, I organized the Hope Exhibition, a celebration of artistic creativity and the beauty of life. All proceeds raised from this exhibition were donated to Life Matters and it was an honour to meet so many wonderful artists and caring members of the community.

My advocacy for those suffering in silence also extends to public speaking, and last year I shared my story at the university’s SilverLine Festival for Health and Wellbeing, as well as the 2017 World Suicide Prevention Day ceremony. Being honest and open about losing my brother to suicide is frightening but empowering. In the words of one of my heroes, Charles Dickens, I want to have “a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”

Ngā Mihi”

Spook the Great Dane

Ambassador of Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust

Spook and Colleen are proud to be associated with the Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust.

People love to pat Spook and chat with Colleen.

You’ll find Spook at many of our events or you can invite him to visit your workplace for much needed love and laughs.