Film-maker seeks support for DVD

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 12:58 19/03/2014
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MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ
OUT TO HELP: Film-maker Keith Hawke is seeking funding for programmes to raise awareness of rural suicide and depression.

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A generous offer means Upper Moutere film-maker Keith Hawke will soon be able to access an extra $20,000 to make an educational DVD about rural suicide and depression - but first, he has to make $12,000 on his own.

Mr Hawke publicly announced the launch of his funding campaign in December. He hopes to make a difference in New Zealand's high rate of rural suicides by filming and distributing a DVD titled Suicide and Depression in Rural Areas. It will feature interviews with a series of farming people about their experiences with depression and suicide.

The DVD would provide information about support services to people in need, and reduce the "stigma and discrimination" associated with mental illness".

"I want to give the rural community credible role models. People who have faced the same problems and have come out the other side and have turned their lives around."

In December, the coroner's office released figures to the Nelson Mail showing 16 suicide cases involving farmers or farm workers were investigated in the 2012-2013 financial year. The toll reached 19 in the previous year.

Records from the NZ Transport Agency and the Coronial Office show that about twice as many people committed suicide than were killed on the roads last year.

An attempt Mr Hawke made last year to gather public donations through the PledgeMe website fell through when his campaign failed to reach its financial target in the allotted time. "It's an all-or-nothing website and I got nothing."

Local businesses and organisations have donated about $6000, however. This week Mr Hawke said the Canterbury Community Trust had offered him $20,000 on the condition that he first raise $12,000.

"Quite rightly they want to see ‘some skin in the game' from those who will benefit from the DVD."

He said businesses and community leaders in the Nelson and Tasman area had been supportive, but wary of associating their names with such a sombre mission. This reticence surprised him.

"The common response has been: ‘We support this DVD project wholeheartedly. We did not know of the extent of the problem. Something should be done but we are not sure that we want our company name associated with the word suicide. Can you change the name of the DVD from Suicide and Depression in Rural Areas to Mental Wellbeing or some-such'."

Mr Hawke said he understood their reluctance, but one of the aims of his project was to raise awareness of suicide and depression in rural communities: "If we can't even say the word suicide then how are we going to discuss it?"

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He said he was looking for support from those who were in regular contact with the rural community as well as organisations involved with agriculture. Trucking companies, fuel suppliers, banks, stock agents and others needed to be able to recognise the signs of depression and potential suicide risks.

Mr Hawke has begun seeking people willing to speak in the documentary.

- Nelson

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