Golden Bay Hope Walk helping to "end the silence and shame" around suicide

Hope Walk organisers Keryn Taylor; Talai Loma; Siti Jongkind; Jo McLean and Tullia Wilson.
NINA HINDMARSH/ STUFF

Hope Walk organisers Keryn Taylor; Talai Loma; Siti Jongkind; Jo McLean and Tullia Wilson.

A group of Golden Bay residents all touched by suicide in different ways want to encourage others who are suffering to seek help.

The newly formed local suicide prevention group, Stronger Together, will host a short Hope Walk in Takaka this Sunday. It is one of many taking place around the country as part of a suicide awareness movement that originated in Auckland.

Organiser Jo McLean said she hoped the event would help "end the silence and shame" around suicide and raise awareness about where people can go for help if they are experiencing overwhelming feelings or thoughts about ending their life.

McLean was "deeply affected" by the recent passing of an extended family member who committed suicide at just 12 years-old.

"That was quite hard watching [the family] try and cope with that and trying to deal with it when they aren't allowed to talk about it," she said.

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"I see Hope Walk as a really good way to break down the stigma that exists, know that it's okay to have overwhelming feelings and where to go for help. But also for others to learn about recognising the signs."

A recent report by Unicef shows New Zealand has by far the highest youth suicide rate in the developed world.

In the 2016-17 year, 606 Kiwis took their own life, up from 579 the previous year. Of that number, 17 were from the Nelson Marlborough regions.

Another Hope Walk organiser Keryn Taylor said the group wanted to make the community aware of the mental health services and staff support in the area. She said many just didn't know what was available.

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"We live in a small community and we can do really well at this, by everyone knowing the different avenues they can seek support through."

Golden Bay Community Mental Health clinical manager Tony Keatley said it received over 1400 phone calls from 134 at-risk clients and their families from August 2016-17.

Their staff had contact with clients over 2600 times, and attended 339 out-of-hours or crisis events. The youngest was just six-years old and the eldest 85, with 40 per cent being male and 60 per cent being female.

It was really important people "broach the subject" if they notice a change in their friends or families members.

"Be fearless, don't be afraid to ask if they are thinking about hurting themselves, and most importantly, help them to seek help," he said.

There will be at least five speakers at the event, and food available for koha. All profits go back to the Hope Walk organisation.

The walks starts at the Junction Green, 1.30pm Sunday, September 17.

WHERE TO GET HELP

Golden Bay Community Mental Health Service (03) 5257647 (available 24/7)

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)

* Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633

Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)

Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)

Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (available 24/7)

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.​

 

 - Stuff.co.nz

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