Ini­tia­tive to pre­vent sui­cide

Central Leader - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET

A SE­RIES of on­line sem­i­nars start­ing next week is ad­dress­ing Maori sui­cide preven­tion from an in­dige­nous per­spec­tive.

The in­ter­ac­tive ‘‘we­bi­nars’’ are the brain­child of non­govern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tion SPINZ – Sui­cide Preven­tion In­for­ma­tion New Zealand.

SPINZ devel­op­ment man­ager Moira Clu­nie says the live we­bi­nars are an ef­fec­tive way of get­ting in­for­ma­tion across the coun­try and start­ing a con­ver­sa­tion about sui­cide preven­tion among Maori.

‘‘Maori are dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fected by sui­cide, es­pe­cially youth,’’ she says.

Last year the Min­istry of Health re­leased fig­ures show­ing the sui­cide rate in 2010 for Maori youth was 2.6 times higher than for nonMaori youth.

Across all ages the rate for Maori was 1.5 times higher than for non-Maori.

SPINZ kaitakawaenga, or Maori li­ai­son, Witi Ashby says the or­gan­i­sa­tion is work­ing with com­mu­ni­ties to cre­ate tools to com­bat sui­cide.

‘‘At the tail-end of a tragedy is when the com- mu­nity kicks up a fuss about what to do – but we want to look at a pre­ven­ta­tive ap­proach.’’

Mr Ashby says be­ing wrapped by fam­ily can act as a pro­tec­tive mea­sure against sui­cide.

He says it is dif­fi­cult to pin­point rea­sons why peo­ple com­mit sui­cide, but re­la­tion­ship break­downs, un­em­ploy­ment and a high rate of ex­po­sure to drugs and al­co­hol can be a con­tribut­ing fac­tor for Maori.

Pre­sen­ters for the three we­bi­nars are re­spected Maori who will speak from their own per­sonal and pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ences.

Maori health lec­turer Keri Law­son-Te Aho says the se­ries is an im­por­tant ‘‘ve­hi­cle for ex­am­in­ing how we re­spond to Maori sui­cide as whanau, hapu and iwi’’.

Ms Te-Aho is pre­sent­ing the first sem­i­nar on Jan­uary 29. The hour-long on­line ses­sions al­low for pre­sen­ters to in­ter­act with the au­di­ence around the coun­try. They are free to join, and ac­ces­si­ble by an in­ter­net con­nec­tion.

For peo­ple un­able to at­tend the we­bi­nar at the set time, they will be recorded for fu­ture ref­er­ence.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Fam­ily mat­ters: SPINZ work­ers Moira Clu­nie and Witi Ashby say whanau are key to Maori sui­cide preven­tion.

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