Help for those who are left
COMMUNITY-BASED group Empathy is not tip-toeing around an issue with a lot of stigma and seldom openly talked about – suicide.
The Whangaparaoabased support group was set up a year ago for people who have lost family or friends to suicide.
Organiser Maureen Wesley says it offers an opportunity to share ideas and coping skills with others, in a caring and confidential environment.
‘‘We have found there is very little support available for those who have been close to those who committed suicide, especially support on the Hibiscus Coast and further north,’’ Maureen says.
‘‘ The rate is higher than the road toll and the effect of this happening is really significant on the lives of those that are left.’’
Co-ordinators Maureen and Sue have had personal experience with suicide among family or friends.
‘‘ Most people know someone who has been suicidal but it isn’t easily talked about.
‘‘I think a huge thing that people feel after a suicide happens is guilt – was there something they could have done? Coming through the grief process takes time and often there never feels complete closure.
‘‘Going through this in a group can be a powerful thing. It is good to know you are not alone and there are others feeling the same way,’’ Maureen says.
Empathy is not a suicide prevention group, but rather a place for those who knew someone who committed suicide.
‘‘It isn’t easy to come to a group like this but that’s why we stress confidentiality and safety.’’
Visit www.thelow down. co. nz for information on suicidal behaviour or prevention. Other services available include Youthline, phone toll-free 0800-37-66-33, Depression Helpline, 0800-111-757, or What’s Up, 0800-942-8787.
If the situation is serious but not an emergency consult your doctor or a mental health professional.
Maureen has completed a Lifeline programme and applied suicide intervention skills training.
Sue has worked in the mental health industry for 20 years, in particular with people suffering manic depression and their recovery.
The next Empathy meeting is on May 30 at Hibiscus Coast Community Centre, 214 Hibiscus Coast Highway, Orewa.
A gold coin donation is requested. Meetings are on the last Monday of every month at 7pm.
Call Maureen Wesley on (09) 424-5135 or 021513-506 for information.
Wesley’ Maureen Empathy co-ordinator