WDHB addresses suicide

30 June 2016
Following international suicide expert Dr Annette Beautrais’ recent visit to Rangitikei, the Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) is putting suicide under the spotlight.
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 a key reason why the Ministry of Health funded Dr Beautrais’ suicide prevention worshops in  Rangitikei.
Recent data 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 addicitions services within the year before their death.
Dr Beautrais has been working in suicide research and prevention in New Zealand and internationally since 1991. Her current focus includes translating suicide research into effective intervention and prevention programmes and providing workshops where she encourages people to open up and talk about suicide.
“Until recently, suicide has been a taboo subject rarely discussed in New Zealand society,” Mr Hammond says. “With the help of research we know that many people who choose to commit suicide are unknown to health services; that while a suicidal person may not ask for help, it doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted; and most people who die by suicide don’t want to die – they just want to stop hurting.
“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 about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life. For someone who feels suicidal, it’s important that you discuss your feelings and reach out when you’re in distress.

“While opening up about how we feel doesn’t come naturally to most New Zealand men, a culture change is occurring. The work of former All Black Sir John Kirwan who’s written two self-help books including best-seller All Blacks Don’t Cry and fronted a national depression campaign has done more to change this culture than ever before.

“Others like comedian Mike King who has also opened up about his own personal issues, and the suicide prevention work of the Mental Health Foundation are influencing change amongst New Zealanders in how we deal with our mental health.”

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 prevention of suicide. Not only is it a tragedy for everyone affected but so often it is preventable.”

Dr Beautrais is due to return to the Whanganui District later this year.

  • Tupoho Iwi and Community Social Services (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) - 06 345 2042
  • Nga Tai o Te Awa, Kia Piki Te Ora Service - 06 348 9902
  • Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) - 06 349 0007
  • 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).