Ex­pert says talk about sui­cide

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By FLORENCE KERR and WAIKATO TIMES

United States pro­fes­sor Ha­tim Omar held a cap­ti­vated au­di­ence in Pu­taruru last week when he gave a pre­sen­ta­tion fo­cus­ing on the pre­ven­tion of youth sui­cide.

New Zealand has the high­est rates of sui­cide in the OECD for youth aged 15 to 19 at 15.9 per 100,000 peo­ple, about dou­ble the rate of the United States and Aus­tralia ac­cord­ing to an OECD re­port on child well­be­ing last year.

The Univer­sity of Ken­tucky pro­fes­sor of pae­di­atrics, ob­stet­rics and gy­nae­col­ogy said one of the ob­sta­cles fac­ing New Zealand was the lack of open­ness about the sub­ject and the me­dia should be able to re­port the topic openly.

Un­der cur­rent laws me­dia are re­stricted in what they can re­port on sui­cides.

‘‘If we talk about it we are more likely to pre­vent sui­cide,’’ Prof Omar said. ‘‘We made a dif­fer­ence in the US when we opened up about the sub­ject. It’s not about glam­ouris­ing or de­mon­is­ing sui­cide, nei­ther is good, what we need is to be ob­jec­tive and truth­ful and most im­por­tantly show the hu­man part and not the numbers. This is the prob­lem in New Zealand, they talk about fig­ures but they never show the faces the numbers rep­re­sent, the griev­ing mother, sib­lings and fa­ther. It’s the hu­man sto­ries that will reg­is­ter with peo­ple.’’

Mr Omar said there was a ‘‘ big dis­con­nect’’ be­tween adults and teens and that bridg­ing that gap would help de­crease the sui­cide rate.

‘‘ We need to con­nect on their level – un­der­stand them, le­git­imise their feel­ings and un­der­stand the pres­sures they face like the elec­tronic ex­plo­sion that they are ex­posed to. Peo­ple need to know that we are deal­ing with new prob­lems that we didn’t have to worry about be­fore like the chok­ing game, vam­pire cul­ture, cy­ber bul­ly­ing and those types of things that we never had to deal with. If we all learn to be car­ing adults and sup­port­ive we can help re­duce the rates.’’

In 2000 the pro­fes­sor planned a one-year ‘‘mas­sive aware­ness cam­paign’’ but 10 years later, that pro­gramme had out­grown the orig­i­nal con­cept. Mr Omar said that as the sui­cide pre­ven­tion project grew he had a steady in­flux of calls and emails from teenagers ask­ing for help. As well as de­vot­ing much of the last decade to help­ing them, he had been pass­ing on in­for­ma­tion so oth­ers could do the same. Ken­tucky had recorded a steady de­cline in both sui­cide and at­tempted sui­cide in the past 10 years, Prof Omar said, and he hoped New Zealand could learn from his ex­pe­ri­ence.

PRO­FES­SOR: Ha­tim Omar gave a lec­ture on youth sui­cide pre­ven­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.