Living for my girl

Living for my girl
A portrait of Victoria McLeod taken by her father Malcolm.

After their 17-year-old daughter took her own life last April, Ms Linda Collins, 55, and Mr Malcolm McLeod, 60, decided to get married.

To the New Zealanders, who have been together for more than 20 years, their union was a tribute to Miss Victoria McLeod's life.

"I wanted to have the name 'McLeod', just like my daughter," says Ms Collins, a copy editor at The Straits Times.

"People often say that couples split up when a child dies but I wanted to send a signal that that wasn't going to happen to us."

Last October, they tied the knot in a low-key ceremony, witnessed by two colleagues who also doubled up as photographers.

Miss McLeod, affectionately known as Vic, was gifted in writing, poetry and art but struggled academically. Her mother describes her as a perfectionist who compared herself to others and put great pressure on herself to get a spot in university.

Ms Collins said: "I showed her a course overseas where she didn't need qualifications to get into. But she said, 'That's not university, Mum. People won't respect me.'"

The day before she ended her life, Miss McLeod had seemed quiet and detached, but Ms Collins dismissed it as just "her being a teenager".

The teen had spent the afternoon filming for a school project on acrophobia (fear of heights).

Ms Collins recalled a clip showing her daughter blowing a piece of tissue off a high ledge. "It was a very alarming image, quite disturbing for some reason. I asked her, 'You would never think of doing this would you?' and she said, 'No, mum. No.'"

She chides herself for failing to pick up what she thinks was a clue to her daughter's state of mind. "She was trying to tell us she was the tissue, she was fragile. It wasn't the tissue going off the edge. It was her."

Miss McLeod had accumulated numerous diaries over the past years.

After her death, it was particularly harrowing for Ms Collins to read through every entry, "hearing Vic's voice in the writing".

From her diaries, Ms Collins learnt that her daughter had entertained suicidal thoughts on two previous occasions - when she was 14 and the day before she killed herself.

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