Self help course Rebekah Lawrence took before death 'left people distraught': court

Live, Australia/August 11, 2009

An inquest has been told the self help course a woman attended before falling to her death, often left people distraught and in tears.

On December 20, 2005 the usually shy Rebekah Lawrence stripped naked and hurled abuse at her work colleagues before climbing out onto an office window sill.

She shouted "I love you" before jumping to her death, despite attempts to coax her down.

An autopsy found she had no drugs or alcohol in her system.

The 34-year-old had been undertaking the Turning Point course - a program, run by People Knowhow, designed to give people self-mastering skills and confront their fears.

Many of Rebekah's acquaintances say her behaviour dramatically changed while doing the course.

Counsel assisting the inquiry, Robert Bromwich, said Ms Lawrence had been "aggressive, somewhat abusive and somewhat foul-mouthed, all of which were totally out of character," in the hours before her death.

Turning Point manager Richard Arthur conceded to the inquest that the $3000 course sometimes left people in tears and distraught.

"It's not a course for vulnerable people," he told Glebe Coroner's Court.

The court heard Mr Arthur has no formal qualifications in psychology.

Mr Bromwich said Ms Lawrence's death should not be considered a suicide because "she didn't have sufficient presence of mind to take her own life".

Despite an ongoing conflict with her husband, David Booth, about not having children, there was nothing in her life to push her to suicide, Mr Bromwich said.

Mr Booth blamed his wife's changing behaviour on the self-help course.

"I do not believe that Rebekah was responsible for her own death," he said.

"I am certain that she would not have committed this act prior to the Turning Point course."

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