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Chief coroner's programme offers support

AMANDA PARKINSON
Last updated 05:00 02/04/2014

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Southland communities will receive more support when one of their own commits suicide, as part of a new programme offered by the chief coroner's office.

Tomorrow night at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill, chief coroner Judge Neil MacLean will speak to bereaved families and individuals affected by suicide in an attempt to better understand how communities are affected by the tragedy.

"Coroners are not experts in suicide prevention, but we can see what is going on and make recommendations. The strongest message is that we should try to avoid speculation and rumour relating to suicides," he said.

MacLean said a "postvention" programme that helped both coroners and communities understand the situations that led to an individual's suicide had been trialled in Auckland with great success.

"I believe all district health boards, including Southland's, have now signed on."

Public Health South medical officer of health Dr Derek Bell said the Southern DHB had signed on to the Manukau 24-hour coroner's service.

"The new service provides us with an official notification of a suicide in a timely manner. This enables us to provide information verified by the coroner to community groups to help minimise the risk of further associated suicides."

Otago Southland coroner David Crerar said he had no thoughts on the programme.

"I am a coroner and cannot comment on generic issues, so I apply the law and deal with facts on a case by case basis."

Crerar said the chief coroner was entitled to an opinion, but he felt individual cases should be dealt with according to their merit.

The discussion comes as the Law Commission presented a report to Parliament yesterday recommending legislative change to how the media can report on suicide.

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- The Southland Times

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