Suicidal teens reach out to centre

AMANDA PARKINSON
Last updated 05:00 27/08/2013

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An increasing number of Invercargill youths with suicidal tendencies are seeking support at a city youth service centre.

Jocelyn Johnstone, director of Invercargill's youth service centre, Number 10, said they had seen a greater number of youths with suicidal tendencies and with more serious suicidal intent in the past year.

"At Number 10, proportionally, we are seeing two-thirds female to one third male clientele presenting with suicide [intentions]. We have noticed more females with suicidal intention in the last year."

Number 10 was working with other agencies in the city to provide "holistic care", she said.

Figures released yesterday show nearly 50 people committed suicide in the lower South Island in the year to June. Chief coroner Judge Neil MacLean said the annual suicide total had been stubbornly consistent since records began in July 2007.

The report showed marginal change across the country, with a slight increase in the Dunedin coronial area which covers Alexandra, Balclutha, Cromwell, Dunedin, Gore, Invercargill, Oamaru, Queenstown, Te Anau and Wanaka. The Dunedin coronial area had 48 suicides in the year to June, up from 42 the year before.

Nationwide, the highest number of suicides was in the 20-24 years age group since records began in 2007, with a total of 75 deaths.

The Southern District Health Board medical officer of health, Dr Marion Poore, said suicide was extremely complex with a number of factors contributing to rates.

"Funding for suicide prevention services is a very small part in a much wider societal and socio-economic picture," she said.

"It is important that as a community we talk about the impact suicide has, the issues involved and what can be done when we work together to reduce suicide."

Dr Poore said the area still had significant work to continue reducing the risk of suicide in the district. The Southern DHB said it was committed to working with a wide range of groups, government agencies, schools and communities to support suicide prevention efforts.

Otago/Southland coroner David Crerar failed to return calls yesterday and Donald Shand, director of mental health support group Pact, was unable to comment on the statistics.

Nationwide, the report showed there were 541 suicides since July 2012, down from 547 the previous year.

Mental Health Foundation New Zealand suicide prevention development manager Moira Clunie said she encouraged communities to play their part in preventing suicide. "If you're worried about somebody and concerned for their welfare, reach out to them and don't be afraid to ask if they're thinking about suicide," she said.

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"You don't need to be a counsellor to offer your support.

"Let the person know that you care and that they're not alone.

"Take them seriously and help them to contact their GP, a helpline, or a counsellor."

WHERE TO GET HELP

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Depression helpline: 0800 111 757

Youthline: 0800 376 633

Samaritans: 0800 726 666

In an emergency, dial 111

- The Southland Times

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