WDHB addresses suicide prevention

6 June 2017



Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) has chosen Men's Health Month to put suicide prevention under the spotlight by encouraging men who feel down, to talk to their family, friends and professionals.


WDHB associate director of nursing (Mental Health Service) Jeff Hammond says the Whanganui region's high rate of suicide (particularly in rural communities) is extremely worrying and therefore worthy of being discussed honestly and openly by the community as a whole.


Data released in 2016 shows there are 11 suicide deaths a week in New Zealand and that 70 percent of suicides are young Maori between 15 and 24, men of working age between 25 and 64 and people who have accessed mental health and addictions services within the year before their death.


However, Mr Hammond says Whanganui DHB wants to try to reach men of all ages "because our statistics show that it is middle-aged men who are unknown to the WDHB's Mental Health and Addiction Services who account for most suicide deaths in Whanganui".


"Now that suicide is no longer a taboo subject we need to do our best to understand why it happens and to really encourage our men to talk when they feel they're not coping or they need help to deal with their feelings of despondency," Mr Hammond says.


"We know from research, that while a suicidal person may not ask for help, it doesn't mean that help isn't wanted. We also know most people who die by suicide don't want to die - they just want to stop hurting," Mr Hammond says.


"Suicide prevention begins with recognising the warning signs and taking them seriously. If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, please understand that talking openly with them about their suicidal thoughts and feelings could save their life. On the other hand, if you are someone who feels suicidal, it's important you discuss your feelings and reach out when you're in distress." Mr Hammond says Whanganui is fortunate to have some wonderful individuals and organisations working tirelessly to prevent suicide deaths among those who identify themselves, or have been identified, as being at risk.  "We will never know how many lives these people save but it's important to acknowledge them. While our society is becoming more comfortable talking about suicide we still have a long way to go and more needs to be done within our community around the prevention of suicide. Not only is it a tragedy for everyone affected but so often, it is preventable."


For primary health treatment, preventive care and health education please contact your GP team or one of the local organisations featured on the Whanganui Mental Health Support organisationTautoko poster.


Alternatively, you can also seek help from any of the following agencies:


  • Lifeline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 354
  • Depression Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 111 757
  • Healthline (open 24/7) - 0800 611 116
  • Samaritans (open 24/7) - 0800 726 666
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
  • Youthline (open 24/7) - 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email talk@youthline.co.nz
  • 0800 WHATSUP children's helpline - phone 0800 9428 787 between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 10pm on weekends. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day at www.whatsup.co.nz.
  • Kidsline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 754. This service is for children aged 5 to 18. Those who ring between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays will speak to a Kidsline buddy. These are specially trained teenage telephone counsellors.
  • Your local Rural Support Trust - 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)
  • Alcohol Drug Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691 for free.
  • For further information, contact the Mental Health Foundation's free Resource and Information Service (09 623 4812).