A challenging topic to write about and an indescribable tragedy to experience, Kakanui woman Linda Collins is preparing to launch a book about her daughter’s suicide.
Ms Collins and husband Malcolm McLeod were living and working in Singapore when daughter Victoria McLeod was born.
After the unexpected and “seemingly preventable” death of 17-year-old Victoria, in 2014, Ms Collins said she was forced to re-evaluate her priorities.
Having worked as an editor for the majority of her career, it was time to put her needs first and start writing.
She first published Loss Adjustment, the book about her daughter’s suicide, in Singapore in 2019, and is trying to expand its reach in New Zealand by having an informal launch in Oamaru on Thursday.
Although the process of writing Loss Adjustment was not cathartic per se, the feedback she received from readers was – particularly the kind things said about her daughter.
Parents would reach out and thank her for the new perspective and awareness they had towards their children.
Although Ms Collins had the challenge of writing about something “most people really wouldn’t want to read” it ended up becoming a non-fiction bestseller in Singapore.
Loss Adjustment was a thesis project for Ms Collins’ Masters of Arts, and was not a conventional narrative about losing someone to suicide.
It included journal entries written by Ms McLeod during the last four months of her life, which “seemed to be addressed to a wider audience”.
“It was a lovely message to us, but also harrowing to read because she examines, reflects, and interrogates trying to live.”
In reviews, Ms McLeod’s writing was hailed by magazine The New Yorker, something every writer dreamed of, Ms Collins said.
She hoped her book would start a conversation about neurodiversity and mental health, wishing more kindness would be extended to people like her daughter .
Ms McLeod had been “semi-diagnosed” with Attention Deficit Disorder, something that had affected her more than Ms Collins’ had realised.
“It breaks my heart that if only I had known a lot more.”
But the very publishing of the book was healing for Ms Collins, who said it was like having her daughter sent out into the world and out of her domain, much like getting a child through and out of school.
The Oamaru launch of the book will be hosted by Waitaki Public Libraries.
Ms Collins said her late daughter was particularly fond Oamaru, the birthplace of her father, and of their home in Kakanui.
“It was like a little sanctuary for Victoria. She liked the birds that came to the garden.”