Suicide grief programme to be run

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 05:00 14/02/2014
suicide

FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE: WAVES facilitators Amanda Christian, left, and Marina Young have both experienced loss by suicide.

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A free educational programme to help cope with grief after suicide is coming to the Hibiscus Coast.

Open to adults 17 and over, WAVES is facilitated by volunteers who are also professional counsellors and educators.

Registered psychologist Amanda Christian and Equip support worker Marina Young facilitated the programme in North Shore in October last year. Following that success, they are bringing the eight-week course to Red Beach. The group will meet once a week between 7pm and 9pm during April and May.

It has been running in Wellington for several years and draws on research by Victoria University psychology lecturer Chris Bowden. Members will be able to share their thoughts, discuss the nature of suicide and gain information about how to care for themselves and others after a suicide.

Mrs Christian says the programme will fill a gap for those bereaved by the suicide of a loved one.

In 2009 she lost her daughter to suicide and says as a family they were left to negotiate the tragedy alone.

"At the time there was nothing really available in that post-vention sphere."

Emotional trauma after suicide is most likened to that of a murder, Mrs Christian says.

"The violent imagery, the anger, the blame, the shock, the denial and the searching for why." The stigma associated with suicide is particularly upsetting, she says.

"The idea that ‘your child made a choice, mine wanted to live' is completely wrong."

Co-facilitator and Equip support worker Marina Young says her sons were struck by the suicide of a close friend last year.

"It has deeply affected my boys. It shows the way in which it has a rippling effect, like waves, on the whole community.

"We've seen more and more young people taking advantage of the course.

"There is a real need for it," Mrs Young says.

Individuals have a pre-group meeting and the number of participants is limited to six to eight people. Mrs Christian says it enhances the opportunity for a safe, trusting environment to share thoughts and feelings.

Contact Marina at Equip 09 477 2448 or marina.young@equip.net.nz to express interest.

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- North Harbour News

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