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Parents, friends and young folks gathered at Mill’s Elementary School Saturday afternoon and discussed how to prevent suicide as individuals and members of the wider community.

At least 100 people turned out for the event hosted by You Matter to Klamath, a new community organization partnership trying to address Klamath County’s high rate of suicide. It included a talk from keynote speaker Rebecca Kordecki and a presentation from volunteers with Youth Rising, a local non-profit supporting youth.

Kordecki’s story

Kordecki, a motivational speaker and celebrity physical trainer, said she fell into working on mental health and suicide awareness because of her own experiences with instability, addiction and suicide as a child.

Kordecki was in foster care until she was 12, then lived with an adopted family for four years until she was 16. Kordecki then moved back in with her mother in California, who she said was dysfunctional.

One day, Kordecki came home to find her mother unconscious after a suicide attempt.

Her mom recovered, but soon after, as a junior in high school, Kordecki moved out on her own and got a job to support herself.

“I had that very dysfunctional and not as traditional childhood — I had a lot of pain, anger and abandonment issues,” she told the Herald and News.

Kordecki fell into hardcore drug addiction at 18. Her addiction spiraled for eight years, through violence and jail-time, before hitting rock bottom at 26.

“I had been using so long and so hard that I realized I needed to change my life,” Kordecki said.

Kordecki then sobered up in rehab, and turned to extreme physical fitness as a coping mechanism.

“I became obsessed, like, the opposite of drugs, became everything was about health,” she said. “How to eat right, how to lift, how to run — I was obsessed. I was like a mad scientist.”

Kordecki built a successful career as a celebrity physical trainer. However, Kordecki said she came to a realization that addressing her mental health was just as important as keeping her body healthy.

“I realized it didn’t matter about just having a six-pack or an eight-pack if my heart was sad and my insides didn’t feel good,” she said. “So I started doing more mindfulness work.”

Since then, Kordecki has given talks and exercises on mindfulness. She uses techniques like journaling and breath work to break cycles of depression and feelings of helplessness that she said can lead to suicide.

“I’m trying to reach anyone who’s got stuck energy, limiting beliefs, blocks, feels heavy inside their body, or whose heart is feeling pain,” Kordecki said. “The first step is making the decision to live.”

Kordecki encouraged anyone feeling lost or close to suicide to reach out to loved ones for help, and to take the first step toward expression; maybe writing down their thoughts, practicing measured breathing or having an honest conversation with a friend.

“People are caught up in their heads in loops of things they learned as a kid, or never addressed as a kid,” Kordecki said. “When I look back now, if I had these tools at 10, 11 or 12, I would have been a different person.”