Sui­cide probed

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Shona McNeil is chal­leng­ing schools to book her play and con­front the is­sue of sui­cide head-on.

The Pau­ata­hanui writer, ac­tor and di­rec­tor re­lo­cated to New Zealand from Scot­land in 2011. Her play, Dare2Hope, was a suc­cess in her na­tive coun­try and was shown to more than 2000 school pupils. She held pi­lot shows with Kiwi ac­tors in the Welling­ton re­gion in June.

Ms McNeil says the play con­fronts the is­sues of sui­cide, de­pres­sion and pres­sure that young peo­ple face to­day. It was in­spired by Kevin Hines, who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fran­cisco and changed his mind half­way down. He sur­vived.

Ms McNeil wants the play to make a dif­fer­ence and es­pe­cially to get school-aged chil­dren talk­ing.

‘‘I don’t think young peo­ple grasp sui­cide, that death is fi­nal, the end.

‘‘ Dare2Hope is about find­ing so­lu­tions, find­ing what keeps you afloat, like Kevin Hines in the wa­ter.’’

The play is cur­rent, provoca­tive, hu­mor­ous and se­ri­ous in equal parts, she says. Char­ac­ters are pakeha, Maori and Pa­cific, gay, sporty, cut across all classes and have both weak and strong in­flu­ences in their life. Ms McNeil says it wasn’t dif­fi­cult ada­p­at­ing it from Scot­land to New Zealand, as young peo­ple face sim­i­lar pres­sures in their teenage years in ev­ery cul­ture, but she did en­gage cul­tural ad­vi­sors to make it rel­e­vant for a Kiwi au­di­ence.

‘‘They are sto­ries from what I’ve seen in my ex­pe­ri­ences [Ms McNeil has sui­cide preven­tion train­ing] and I’m glad we’ve been able to show to not just kids, but adults and the wider community. Sui­cide af­fects so many lives.’’

The feed­back has been very pos­i­tive and she wants to take Dare2Hope into schools. It will be show­ing at uni­ver­si­ties dur­ing Men­tal Health Aware­ness Week in Oc­to­ber.

‘‘Along with the play, there is the op­por­tu­nity to talk and ‘ work­shop’ after­wards.

‘‘I just want to get peo­ple talk­ing about this – some­times I think kids are more will­ing than adults.’’

Go to pure­men­talthe­ for in­for­ma­tion.

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