By Shaun Robinson *
Opinion – My heart goes out to the family and friends of the 668 people who presumably died from suicide in 2017/18. At the Mental Health Foundation we knew some of those people. I know others who have committed suicide. Once, years ago, I was. This is a very human and a very national tragedy.
The number is the highest that it has ever been and has risen four years in a row. That follows a decade of stubbornly many suicides. It is the leading cause of death for young people in New Zealand. Although suicide affects every group in our society, it falls mostly on young Māori men.
As a country, we need action. We need MORE action because we already know the answers to how we turn these figures in many ways.
Every year, literally thousands of people undergo a period in which they feel and recover suicidally. Hundreds of unsung heroes in the community are doing a fantastic job of preventing suicide every day. Building networks for people who are struggling, connecting young people with their culture and community, responding quickly to vulnerable situations, dedicated employees in mental health care … the list goes on and on.
So we have many answers, but we lack the resources to invest in preventing suicide and learning what works.
The causes of suicide are many and varied. Trauma in children, important life events such as relationship exchanges or grief, financial problems, excessive stress, the feeling that you are not part of it and are not connected with family or community, physical and psychological disorders; these can all play a role.
We must recognize that these personal situations are often determined by the way we treat each other and some major thorny social problems – family violence, child abuse, poverty, the housing crisis, bullying at school and at work, homophobia, racism and the aftermath of colonization. We can not reverse the suicide trends by focusing solely on individuals, we need to double to address social factors.
It is not just about stopping negatives – we have to create positives. There are lifestyle and life skills approaches that build positive mental health and the ability to manage the stressors of life, and also help people deal with and deal with the really dark times.
There are examples of this now working in schools and communities – look at Sparklers, Farmstrong, okay ?, head for the bow. We need more of these.
Of course, people need more and better support services. Though thousands of people get help, there are too many gaps. People need early support so that they do not reach a point of crisis. If they do, those crisis services must be there, ready to help people recover.
Let's not forget that you and I are the first line of support. When I was in a dark room, I reached out to friends and family or they turned me off. We need more encouragement to be there and train more like LifeKeepers to give people the confidence and skills to help their communities.
The only common theme in suicide is hope or lack of hope.
Hope is not about Pollyanna or about ignoring the tragedy – it's about recognizing and listening to what works and builds on it. The Mental Health Inquiry has listened a lot.
I count the days until we see the government respond to the investigation and take leadership to act. In the nineties New Zealand had a plan to prevent suicide and the numbers started to decrease. We did it then, we can do it again.
* Shaun Robinson is chief executive at the Mental Health Foundation
Where can I get help:
If it is an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
Need to talk? Free calls or SMS 1737 at any time for any reason to speak with a trained consultant.
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or sms HELP to 4357
Relief line suicide crisis: 0508 828 865/0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may think of suicide, or for people who are concerned about family or friends.
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free SMS 234 (08.00-12.00), or email [email protected]
What & # 39; s Up: online chat (19.00 – 22.00) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's phone (13.00 – 22.00, 15.00 – 22.00 on weekends)
Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)
Rural Support Trust helpline: 0800 787 254
Healthline: 0800 611 116
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155