Sui­cide is­sues stud­ied

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

A pair of Win­tec re­searchers are tak­ing a novel ap­proach to sui­cide pre­ven­tion: talk­ing to sui­cide ‘‘sur­vivors’’ – rel­a­tives of those who have taken their own lives – to learn what needs to be done.

The idea came from work­shops held at the Hamil­ton cam­pus last year dur­ing a visit from a world-renowned sui­cide pre­ven­tion ex­pert, Amer­i­can pro­fes­sor Ha­tim Omar.

Prof Omar is a pro­fes­sor of Pae­di­atrics at the Univer­sity of Ken­tucky and chair­man of the suc­cess­ful ‘‘ stop youth sui­cide’’ cam­paign.

Prof Omar will be bring­ing his ex­per­tise to ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties this year and will con­duct a free com­mu­nity pre­sen­ta­tion about stop­ping youth sui­cide on Novem­ber 23 from 4pm to 6.30pm at the Pu­taruru Plaza. Prof Omar will also con­duct a train­ing pro­gramme for front­line health work­ers the fol­low­ing day at the plaza.

Win­tec re­searcher Said Shah­tah­masebi, who has spent the past 12 years study­ing the sub­ject, said it made him re­alise how much need there was in the com­mu­nity.

The Hamil­ton Coroners Court, which holds in­quests cov­er­ing the re­gion, has held 220 sui­cide in­quests be­tween 2007 and 2011.

Mr Shah­tah­masebi said many sur­vivors com­plained of not hav­ing any­one to talk to be­cause the topic of sui­cide was still con­sid­ered taboo.

‘‘They can’t mourn prop­erly – they can’t talk about their loss. If you lis­ten to them they’ll tell you no-one re­ally un­der­stands,’’ Mr Shah­tah­masebi said.

Mr Shah­tah­masebi be­lieved they could pro­vide a lot of in­sight and some­thing new to the pre­ven­tion lit­er­a­ture, so he and fel­low Win­tec re­searcher Car­roll AupouriM­clean em­barked on the study.

It al­lows sur­vivors to tell their story in the hope of adding some­thing more to the cur­rent ‘‘med­i­cal-based, top­down ap­proach’’ re­search.

‘‘We just want to give these peo­ple an av­enue to tell peo­ple how they felt – in what­ever words they want.

Ms Aupouri- Mclean has in­ter­viewed sev­eral sui­cide sur­vivors so far for the study.

She said peo­ple needed to re­alise these fam­i­lies went through the same ‘‘real grief’’ as any­one else who lost a loved one.

She had found sur­vivors felt shut off from the com­mu­nity due to the stigma as­so­ci­ated with sui­cide.

‘‘ So they just close down from so­ci­ety.’’

Free tick­ets to the event are avail­able from the South Waikato News of­fices, Toko­roa YMCA on Bridge St, Pu­taruru In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre, Pu­taruru Col­lege of­fice and the Pu­taruru Pri­mary School of­fice.

The pro­gramme has been brought to the South Waikato by Win­tec with the help of Full­bright fund­ing, Pop­u­la­tion Health and the South Waikato District Coun­cil who have spon­sored the venue.

TEACH­ERS ONLY DAY: World Teach­ers Day was held re­cently and Cargill Open Plan School cel­e­brated the event with a spe­cial cer­e­mony for its teach­ers. World Teach­ers Day was es­tab­lished by the United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Unesco) and is noted in more than 100 coun­tries each year. Pic­tured are teach­ers Leanne Jack­son, Fiona Gott, David Bro­man, Robyn Wilson, Vanessa Can­non and Carol Mor­ris.

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