Suicide issues studied
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.