Brave dad shares survival story to save others
SUICIDE survivor Nathan Taylor is living proof that life does get better, and he hopes to inspire others to speak honestly and openly about suicide, depression and anxiety.
Mr Taylor, 41, said he had never been happier, with three beautiful kids, a supporting wife, and a new job at a leading personal and professional development program.
But just 15 years earlier, at 26, Mr Taylor hit his lowest point when he attempted to take his own life.
He has detailed at a recent Stories of Hope Australia meeting in Maroochydore the tough experiences in his childhood and teenage years that led him to his breaking point.
"A lot of people might not know this but the suicide rate on the Sunshine Coast is the highest in Australia outside indigenous areas," Mr Taylor said.
"If it wasn't for my stepfather who found me and saved my life, I wouldn't be here, so I know I'm meant to be here.
"I stand here as a living and breathing example that life gets better and my message to everyone is that it truly does."
In 2018, Mr Taylor created a safe space for people to talk openly about their problems in an environment free from judgment.
"In 2012 my wife's cousin's little boy Zak took his life at 12-years-old and that's something you never get over," he said.
"I made a promise to him that I would do something, I just didn't know what or how.
"Then in 2017 a good friend of mine took his life and that really hit home as he was the same age as me and had a family of his own.
"I knew it was time to speak up because maybe if he had spoken to me and knew what I had gone through, it could have made a difference.
"I decided to be open and honest and speak up about my history and that's when I stated Zak's Community Facebook page to raise awareness."
Mr Taylor said more people needed to speak up about their feelings, particularly men.
"Everybody has their own journey and challenges and it doesn't matter what things appear to be on the outside, we've all had ups and downs in life," he said.
"To be able to show your vulnerability is a strong thing to do.
"It's not strong to keep everything inside and just tear yourself apart … letting it out is really important.
"Through Zak's community I try to talk about the five C's like care, if people know others are actually listening to them and care about what's going on, then they'll open up and have a conversation.
"After the conversations, you form a connection and from there you create a community and with a community you can make real change.
"There's so many different groups around on the Sunshine Coast where people are encouraging mateship and having connections."
For anyone going through a tough time, Mr Taylor said to try to do something that worked towards a goal.
"For me it was exercising.
"That got me out of it.
"Once you start exercising it releases endorphins.
"It might be just going for a walk, read a book, listen to a podcast, eat clean, eliminate alcohol, or meditate."
He said it was about taking action.
"We get stuck in our stories sometimes, but the story is in the past and being present is such a powerful thing."
Mr Taylor said people needed to draw a line in the sand and get that spark in their belly to be able to set a goal and hit it.
"Once you create new habits, your mind starts feeling clearer and away you go again.
"Some people can do that in a month or two and for some people it might take a year.
"Everyone is on their own journey."
After missing out on having a stable family to lean on when growing up, Mr Taylor loved being a role model to his three kids.
"My boy is 12 which is the same age as Zak when he passed and I love being able to be open and honest with him so he knows he can talk to me," he said.
"For me to have a family and have that sense of belonging, that makes me feel good about myself."
If you or anyone you know is struggling please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au.