Samoan suicide survivor seeks to inspire

A Samoan businessman in New Zealand has opened up the difficulties of his journey to success entailed - including three suicide attempts. 

Tuala Tagaloa Tusani, the chairman of the New Zealand Trade Investment Commission and the A.S.A. Foundation said he hoped others experiencing similar difficulties would be helped by his story. 

"A lot of people see me as chairman for the New Zealand-Samoa Trade Investment Commission and the chairman for A.S.A. Foundation, and they think that I’m so lucky and ask how I was able to get where I am today," he told the Samoa Observer. 

Tuala recalled trying to hang himself twice and making a third attempt when he was 19 and was left with severe injuries after a head-on collision with a car. 

Upon his recovery he said he wanted to make something of his life and went back to school. 

"When I was 19, I ran into a car to try and kill myself,” Tuala recalled.

“I fractured the back of my skull, broke my lower back and my whole right side and it was my brother who carried me off the road.

"[Going] back to school, that was the first thing; I went back to Primary School. I was 20 years old and I had convinced the Primary School if I could just go back and learn because I had wasted so many opportunities coming from Samoa."

He said that he had been expelled from school before his personal troubles reached a peak; got a girl pregnant; and, with no job or qualification, felt like a loser. 

"I didn’t want to be a burden to my family and I chose suicide as a solution, unfortunately," Tuala added

"I came from Samoa when I was 10 years and then for the next nine years, I wasted it, hanging around and doing stupid stuff with gangsters," he added

"I wasted the love of my nana who raised me at Leauvaa."

Tuala hopes that his story inspires others so that they won't go down the same path. He also revealed he had lost cousins and family members to suicide. 

He now lives in Onehunga, Auckland and had recently created hair wax made of pawpaw with the help of friends to raise awareness about suicide. 

"I live in Onehunga and I have some friends who own a cosmetic company in Onehunga and we had worked together to make it. Everything is made in Onehunga," he said 

The hair wax was endorsed by Sir Michael Jones who has been very supportive of Tuala's work. The proceeds from the hair wax fund the making of magnets which has all the helping numbers. 

"We have developed a fridge magnet. On this magnet are numbers that people can ring up if help is ever needed," Tuala added

"The magnets are donated when we go to businesses and churches."

The whole suicide campaigned is championed by the ASA Foundation. 

Tuala told the Samoa Observer that he is really grateful for his second chance and encourages those struggling with suicide to reach out and talk to someone, hence the helpline numbers on the magnet for those who need help. 

* People struggling with mental health issues can call the Faataua Le Ola 24-hour Lifeline on 800-5433.

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