Mother's book about teenage daughter’s suicide shows 'reality of suffering from a devastating loss'
When her daughter bought Ms Linda Collins kaya pancakes and later made her favourite toasted cheese sandwich, she appreciated the treats but found her unusually attentive.
It was only later that Ms Collins, now 60, realised it was a parting gift of sorts, on their last day together.
The next day, April 14, 2014, Victoria McLeod took her own life. She was 17.
To make sense of the death of her only child, Ms Collins, a copy editor at the political desk of The Straits Times, recently penned her brutally honest memoir, Loss Adjustment, published by Ethos Books.
Ms Collins told The New Paper last week: "I didn't realise it then, but it (the food treats on that Sunday) was her way of expressing her love."
Her husband, Mr Malcolm McLeod, 64, is a deputy picture editor at ST.
Several months after their daughter's death, Ms Collins found her daughter's laptop journal, which described the last four months of her life.
Victoria wrote about the difficulties she faced, that she feared she was failing at school, her self-image issues, and confusion over sexual identity.
Ms Collins also found Victoria's hard copy journals, and realised she had kept them since she was eight.
It was only then she learnt that Victoria had suffered from social anxiety and was not comfortable in her own skin.
"She suffered a lack of self-esteem... she was a very sensitive soul. She had a lot empathy but she let people's negativity affect her," said Ms Collins.
The journals helped her as a mother to better understand what might have driven Victoria to suicide, that it was not out of anger towards her parents.
Ms Collins wished she was more in tune with her daughter's fears and worries.
She wrote in her book: "I relive every memory I can dredge up, agonising if there was a point at which I could have said something that would have changed her mind."
Ms Collins has tried to see some good come from the tragedy. She told TNP: "How do you cope, people ask me. One thing... was trying to be a kinder person."
She said it also taught her to be grateful for her life and for having her daughter for 17 years.
An Ethos Books spokesman said: "There is no sugar-coating her experience, and she expresses her vulnerability and flaws readily, showing us the all-too-human reality of suffering from a devastating loss."
Ethos Books has partnered bookstores to donate $1 from each pre-order copy of the book to the Samaritans of Singapore to support mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
The bookstores include Littered With Books, Times, BooksActually, Booktique Where Writers Shop and Wardah Books.
Loss Adjustment will be available at all major bookstores for $22.47 from Sept 28.
- Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours)
- Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
- Institute of Mental Health's Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222 (24 hours)
- Care Corner Counselling Centre: 1800-353-5800 (Mandarin)
- Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788