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Memories of Courtney continue to inspire others

 Jamie Harris hugs Evie Swinton at a memorial ceremony held recently for Swinton’s daughter Courtney who committed suicide three years ago. At the ceremony, friends and relatives of Courtney Swinton not only recalled her friendly, peace-loving nature, but how the loss of the teenager had prompted them to re-orient their own lives and reach out to others.

Jamie Harris hugs Evie Swinton at a memorial ceremony held recently for Swinton’s daughter Courtney who committed suicide three years ago. At the ceremony, friends and relatives of Courtney Swinton not only recalled her friendly, peace-loving nature, but how the loss of the teenager had prompted them to re-orient their own lives and reach out to others. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Ciera Bolton of Warrensburg said Courtney’s death was shocking, and it has prompted her to be more sensitive to others’ emotional needs.

“Courtney’s touched my life so much,” she said. “I’ve learned that emotional problems need to be resolved, and people need to reach out to each other and affirm that life is worth living.”

Youth advocate Irv West of Thurman, who has sponsored the annual memorial ceremony, added his thoughts.

“Courtney was apparently overwhelmed, but we can respect her life and our own lives,” he said. “We need to recognize we’re all one people and we need to reach out and connect with one another, because modern life isolates people. Once we feel connected with others, our lives will be enriched and see purpose.”

Jamie Harris, a friend of Courtney’s mother Evie Swinton, said memories of the girl — a peace-loving soul with an affinity for tie-dyed clothing — have inspired her. Harris has launched a business marketing tie-dyed T-shirts, and she serves as a volunteer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“I couldn’t save Courtney, but maybe I can save someone else,” she said.

Swinton, who had for years been plunged into deep grief, closing herself off from others, said she was finally regaining a sense of hope due to family’s and friends’ loving outreach and support — and now she’s reaching out to enrich others’ lives.

“I know I have a reason to live and help others,” she said.

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