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Next Tuesday is World Suicide Prevention Day, but Wairarapa’s interagency team is hard at work every day to prevent suicide. Here’s how you can help.

“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 made public by Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall.

Nationally, there were 685 suicides in the year to June 30, a rise of 17 on the previous 12 months.

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

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

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

Cardno said there was a consistent trend of men and Maori being over-represented in these figures – Maori youth are 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.”

She said we all are responsible for suicide prevention.

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

How you can help

If you’re worried that someone might be thinking about suicide, don’t be afraid to ask them directly.

If someone has thoughts or feelings about suicide, it’s important to take them seriously.

It can be really hard to tell someone you care about that you are feeling suicidal.

If someone tells you they are thinking about suicide, thank them for telling you.

Invite them to keep talking with you.

Let them know there is professional help available to them and encourage them to access it.

A person who is thinking about suicide might not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted. They might feel ashamed of how they’re feeling, like they don’t deserve help, or like no one can help them.

People who feel suicidal often feel like they are alone and that their family, whānau and friends would be better off without them.

Most people who attempt suicide don’t really want to die, they just want their troubles to go away and often can’t see another way out.

Lots of people feel suicidal at some time in their lives.

Getting support, being listened to, finding a connection and a sense of purpose can help them to find a way through.

If you know someone who may be in trouble, literally take a minute.

Ask the question.

It just might change their life.

Where to get help

If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or mental health provider.

However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.

For mental health services, phone 0508 432 432.

Community services:

WAVES – Supporting families and friends bereaved by suicide

WAVES is an 8-week programme, designed to support families and individuals bereaved by suicide.

If you know someone interested in attending a WAVES programme, contact Donna Rameka, Supporting Families, on 06 377 3081, or Jill Renata, Adult Mental Health, on 027 301 8445

Supporting Families Wairarapa – 323 Queen St, Masterton, 06 3773081

Victim Support – Suicide bereavement specialist, Central region, Wairarapa based 0800 842 846 or 021 343 328

East Coast Rural Support Trust – John Roberts: 027 200 0851; Sarah Donaldson: 021 504 089; Steve Thomson: 06 372 3877

Te Hauora Runanga o Wairarapa – 15 Victoria St, Masterton, 06 378 0140 or 0800 666 744

Changeability – 7 Victoria St, Masterton, 06 377 0933

OASIS Network Inc – support@oasisnetwork.org.nz, 04 566 1601

Wairarapa Safer Community Trust – 185 High St South, Carterton, 06 379 5407

MOSAIC – www.mosaic-wgtn.org.nz 06 377 7209 Confidential text – 022 419 3416

Free Helplines, online and text support:

TE HAIKA: 0800 745 477

NEED TO TALK? call or text 1737

DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757

LIFELINE: 0800 543 354

SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666

YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234

KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (under 18yo)

WHAT’S UP: 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18yo).

SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865

HEALTHLINE: 0800 611 116

DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or free text 4202

OUTLINE NZ: 0800 688 5463, sexuality/gender identity

THELOWDOWN.CO.NZ – or free text 5626

Help for parents, family, and friends:

COMMONGROUND: www.commonground.org.nz

PARENT HELP: 0800 568 856

FAMILY SERVICES HELP LINE: 0800 211 211

SKYLIGHT: 0800 299 100 (for support through trauma, loss, and grief)

SUPPORTING FAMILIES IN MENTAL ILLNESS: 0800 732 825

Other specialist helplines:

ALCOHOL AND DRUG HELPLINE: 0800 787 797 or online chat

ARE YOU OK? 0800 456 450 family violence helpline

GAMBLING HELPLINE: 0800 654 655

ANXIETY PHONE LINE: 0800 269 4389

SENIOR LINE: 0800 725 463 a free information service for older people

SHINE: 0508 744 633 confidential domestic abuse helpline

WOMEN’S REFUGE CRISIS LINE: 0800 733 843

RAPE CRISIS: 0800 883 300 for support after rape or sexual assault

Loss, grief, and recovery

People who are bereaved by suicide may find healing through a workshop being held this month.

Loss, Grief, Recovery is a seminar led by Paul Ranby who worked as a chaplain for 12 years in the clinical team at Arohanui Hospice in Palmerston North.

In the workshop, which will be held on September 14 from 9am until 4pm, Paul will share with participants information about the grieving process, acknowledging that everyone’s journey is different.

There will be an overview of loss and grieving, information about processing your own grief and offering aid to others, and information about the challenges of suicide-related grieving.

The seminar will also offer participants hope, healing, and new discoveries.

It will be held at St James Church Hall, 116 High St Masterton, and is a follow-up of a mental health awareness event featuring singer-songwriter Julia Grace last month.

Both events have been facilitated by bereaved Masterton mother Gael De Hertog who lost her son Aaron to suicide in December, 2016.

Gael said some positive feedback she received from the Julia Grace event was that people felt “freer to talk about how they feel”.

She said the help desk at the event was “inundated” with people wanting more information about mental health support.

This upcoming seminar would give people an opportunity to work through their grief.

The voice of our youth
Wairarapa District Health Board is working with teams of local youths who share a passion for making sure New Zealand’s health providers are listening, understanding, and taking action on what works, what doesn’t, and where the gaps are in youth mental health services.

Seni Iasona, Makoura College

Living in a country that has the highest youth suicide rates in the developed world is a devastating statistic, and very hard to swallow.

In 2018, at least 3500 young New Zealanders attempted suicide.

We are losing about two of Aotearoa’s brothers and sisters each day.

It is time for change. It is time to educate our youth about how to speak up, seek help, and how they can be supported.

It cannot be about raising awareness of suicide, it needs to be about raising awareness of preventing suicide.

We need to see some serious change so that New Zealand never ever has to face these heart-breaking suicide statistics again.

Brooke Robertson, Wairarapa College

I believe it is essential that we talk more about our mental health as it influences everything we do.

We need to start acknowledging that suicidal thoughts and mental health issues are becoming increasingly more common, and we need to develop better strategies to support people to help them find a way out.

I want to know that young people all over New Zealand have options to turn to so that they don’t have to face their issues alone and can find the love and support they need to help them work through it.

Belle Willemstein, St Matthews Collegiate

Local youth want to be there at the beginning of Wairarapa’s success story.

We are a driving force for positive change within our community’s mental health services.

The new PIKI resources and our government strategy are there to support us being innovative.

I want to support our local rangatahi by connecting them with services to ensure that they are getting the best outcomes they can.

I strive to ensure that all youth are able to have their voice heard, by helping to bridge the gap between bureaucracy and young people.

Keep going – don’t make it a full stop

Anna Cardno

Suicide is an ugly full stop bang smack in the middle of an unfinished sentence.

It is an emotive topic, a tough discussion, but bringing suicide into the realm of real conversation is important if we are going to make a difference.

Wairarapa’s suicide statistics are ugly and we really need to improve.

Suicide is endlessly complicated.

It leaves behind unresolved anger, guilt and blame; the burden of never knowing why, and the stolen opportunity to help.

The frustration of raw hindsight that sees things clearly but all too late.

Suicide prevention is everyone’s business.

Suicide prevention is not about system-wide service change.

It is about having empathy and taking action.

In floods and fires, we act, we care, and we seek and provide help for the affected community.

Suicide prevention is no different.

Only the emergency is less visible and the effects last far longer.

A suicide forever alters the lives of all those left behind.

Not only is the deceased cheated of a life unlived, but the lives of all those who loved them are forever changed. So, when we consider our suicide statistics it’s never just as simple as a number on a page, one count per person.

It’s a whole community to count – the family, friends, neighbours and all the people touched – it’s a much bigger number.

And collectively, as that bigger number, we can all make an effort to make a difference.

Finding the tools to help people through their hard times is a great place to start.

Encourage people to talk about what’s going on for them in the tough times, and to seek help long before suicide becomes an option.

Look out for each other and notice when someone seems to be struggling.

Check in with them.

Take a minute to ask if they are okay.

Show you care.

And know where help is, if you think it’s needed.

  • Anna Cardno is the communications manager at Wairarapa District Health Board and has been working in suicide prevention since the region topped the national table for suicides in 2017.