Initiative to prevent suicide

DANIELLE STREET
Last updated 05:00 25/01/2013
SPINZ
JASON OXENHAM

FAMILY MATTERS: SPINZ workers Moira Clunie and Witi Ashby say whanau is key to Maori suicide prevention.

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A series of online seminars starting next week is addressing Maori suicide prevention from an indigenous perspective.

The interactive "webinars" are the brainchild of non-government organisation SPINZ - Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand.

SPINZ development manager Moira Clunie says the live webinars are an effective way of getting information across the country and starting a conversation about suicide prevention among Maori.

"Maori are disproportionately affected by suicide, especially youth," she says.

Last year the Ministry of Health released figures showing the suicide rate in 2010 for Maori youth was 2.6 times higher than for non-Maori youth.

Across all ages the rate for Maori was 1.5 times higher than for non-Maori.

SPINZ kaitakawaenga, or Maori liaison, Witi Ashby says the organisation is working with communities to create tools to combat suicide.

"At the tail-end of a tragedy is when the community kicks up a fuss about what to do - but we want to look at a preventative approach."

Mr Ashby says being wrapped by family can act as a protective measure against suicide.

He says it is difficult to pinpoint reasons why people commit suicide, but relationship breakdowns, unemployment and a high rate of exposure to drugs and alcohol can be a contributing factor for Maori.

Presenters for the three webinars are respected Maori who will speak from their own personal and professional experiences.

Maori health lecturer Keri Lawson-Te Aho says the series is an important "vehicle for examining how we respond to Maori suicide as whanau, hapu and iwi".

Ms Te-Aho is presenting the first seminar on January 29. The hour-long online sessions allow for presenters to interact with the audience around the country. They are free to join, and accessible by an internet connection.

For people unable to attend the webinar at the set time, they will be recorded for future reference.

Visit spinz.org.nz.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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