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‘We are all responsible’


More work needed to support men


“Sobering” statistics on suicide have prompted experts to remind communities “we are all responsible for suicide prevention”.

Eight Wairarapa families lost a loved one last year, according to figures released by Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall.

Nationally, there were 685 suicides in the year to June 30, 17 more than the previous 12 months.

Wairarapa District Health Board’s acting suicide prevention and “postvention” co-ordinator Anna Cardno said New Zealand’s suicide statistics were sobering.

“There are trends that are repeating year on year.”

“Postvention” is an intervention conducted after a suicide.

A peak from July 2016 to July 2017 had 12 deaths as a result of suicide in Wairarapa – double the year before.

Cardno said leaders recognised “we needed to do something, and something pretty immediate about that”.

The Too Many Wairarapa campaign was run in 2017, supporting suicide awareness, and to get the community talking about what “our responsibilities are” and “what can we all do”.

Data showed that women tended to die by suicide younger than men, while men took their own lives into their 70s and older.

There was a consistent trend of men and Maori being over-represented in these figures – Maori youth were particularly vulnerable.

“Suicide is a really hard subject. There’s an element of fear involved in discussing it.

“There’s sometimes a concern that talking about it can ‘cause’ suicide. This is not the case.

“The reality is that for a person to take their life, something has not worked for them.

“We need to work out what intervention may have helped them, and when, and work to fill those gaps.”

Everyone was responsible for suicide prevention.

“Look out for your neighbours, whanau and friends and if you notice they seem to be struggling, take some action.

“It can be as simple as asking if they are OK. That one small question can make one huge difference.”

A group including Wairarapa DHB are working with funeral directors and ministers about “safe messaging” and support material for those impacted by suicide.

A separate initiative is under way to talk to men about ways support can be improved.

“I think we have got a lot of work to do to develop better services to support men.”

A permanent suicide prevention and postvention co-ordinator joins the DHB next month.

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