Let’s talk Suicide
we talk about suicide? In recent days there have been a number of
articles discussing this very topic - Sue Nicholson, mother of Ollie who
died in 2009, and Timaru GP Dr Oliver
Bourke in today’s Herald to name just two. Research has been cited,
experts consulted and families silenced.
from this conversation to date is the voice of those who work on the
frontline, counselling and emotionally supporting vulnerable New
Zealanders considering suicide, and training
communities to have these conversations safely.
people are the backbone of Lifeline Aotearoa, an organisation that has
answered calls, from people in crisis and thinking about suicide, for
the past fifty years. We support the
calls from Sue Nicholson, Dr Oliver Bourke and countless others to be
open about suicide.
telephone counsellors work 24 hours, 365 days of the year and are
trained in ASIST, the best-available, evidence-based suicide
intervention training in the world,” says Jo Denvir,
CEO of Lifeline Aotearoa.
are ways to talk about suicide safely and it’s our speciality. It’s not
a matter of a few ‘do’s and donts', there is a lot of evidence to
support how this should occur and it
is different depending on the setting.”
approach in New Zealand is community wide. Delivering a range of grass
roots training's across New Zealand, sitting on community action groups
to help develop suicide prevention
plans and working with District Health Boards and government agencies
to better respond to people thinking about suicide.
have strong international links to Lifelines branches across the world,
this includes access to their research, best practice models, campaigns
and training. Internationally, Lifeline
is regarded as experts in suicide crisis, in fact Lifeline Suicide
Crisis Hotlines are funded everywhere in the world except here in New
Zealand.” says Ms Denvir.
Denvir believes New Zealand should not be afraid to focus its funding
on suicide intervention and recovery. The World Health Organisation
stipulates that crisis helplines should be
a part of every country’s suicide prevention strategy.
is the new catchphrase for funders – and this makes sense for a
population wide campaign, but it does nothing for the individual who
doesn’t understand why they no longer want
if the person doesn’t think they are depressed? What if they do not
think they have an alcohol, drug or gambling addiction issue, or require
support from Healthline or a mental
health team? Where do they go? They call Lifeline.”
Lifeline answers thousands of specifically suicide related calls per year.
"Wellness focused activities will not stop the thoughts of suicide
occurring in one in seventeen New Zealanders this year,” says Ms Denvir.
the question is not whether we should talk about suicide, but rather
why are we not taking suicide seriously in this country? People,
communities and non government organisations
like Lifeline, are doing their very best on the bare minimum of
government investment and we wonder why the rates continue to climb.
Denvir says this a conversation New Zealand needs to have. “It’s ironic
really, that as a country we say we need to talk about suicide, but
then we don’t fund our only Suicide Crisis
Helpline - a safe place where people desperate to understand why they
no longer want to live can talk openly about suicide with a trained