Shar­ing sto­ries on so­cial me­dia ‘heal­ing’

The Timaru Herald - - HOMED -

Mem­bers of a so­cial me­dia group ded­i­cated to ad­dress­ing sui­cide be­lieve tack­ling it head on is the key to break­ing the stigma.

A South Can­ter­bury mem­ber who had dealt with his own men­tal health is­sues says talk­ing about sui­cide and sui­ci­dal thoughts is a heal­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Face­book page ‘‘Let’s Talk About Sui­cide’’ has grown from a hand­ful of or­gan­iser North Otago wo­man Kayla Miller’s close friends, to 593 peo­ple from across the coun­try and around the world.

‘‘The whole idea of the ti­tle is to talk about it over some­thing ca­sual like cof­fee, peo­ple are so scared about the word, they find it con­fronting,’’ Miller said.

The group was formed to break the stigma of sui­cide and en­cour­age open­ness and shar­ing in or­der to help the heal­ing process, she said.

Miller was in­spired af­ter see­ing how sui­cide had be­come a topic in the me­dia, as well as sta­tis­tics show­ing 606 New Zealan­ders took their lives in the 2016/17 year.

‘‘The idea is that peo­ple can share their ex­pe­ri­ences with sui­cide, it isn’t to feel sorry for our­selves, it is to take a step back and re­alise how far you have come, to be able to see the strength within you to keep fight­ing and most im­por­tantly to know you’re not alone.’’

She hoped the group would even­tu­ally be­come ob­so­lete when the cul­ture around sui­cide changed and there were zero sui­cides.

One South Cantabrian shared his jour­ney to come to grips with his own strug­gles with men­tal health on the page, and said he felt good about it.

For­mer Moun­tain­view High School stu­dent Semisi Tae’iloa, 25, said some of his dark­est times came dur­ing his up­bring­ing in Ti­maru.

Shar­ing on the group was a ‘‘heal­ing ex­pe­ri­ence’’ for him, and he wel­comed any­one to read his story as well as read­ing other sto­ries, he said.

‘‘I’m all about try­ing to get peo­ple to open up.

‘‘Peo­ple want to take the easy way out be­cause they feel they don’t have the right sup­port or ac­cess to ser­vices. The big thing that helped me was see­ing other peo­ple shar­ing their story. It shows you don’t have to take it all in your­self.’’

He said there was a lack of ser­vices for men­tal health in the South Can­ter­bury re­gion. ‘‘There is a lack of ser­vices, I have a lot of love for the peo­ple in that area, but there is a lot of peo­ple that fall through the cracks.’

He ad­mit­ted peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sui­ci­dal thoughts was ‘‘a re­ally hard thing’’ for fam­i­lies and friends to pick up on, and that caused peo­ple to feel iso­lated.

Men­tal Health Foun­da­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Shaun Robin­son said the foun­da­tion could not com­ment on the Face­book page as ‘‘we don’t know enough about how it is run or the safety pro­ce­dures in place’’.

‘‘How­ever, we are very sup­port­ive of dis­cus­sions of sui­cide preven­tion such as warn­ing signs, myths about sui­cide, how to get help and how to help some­one else and help­ing those who have sur­vived sui­ci­dal feel­ings and at­tempts to tell their sto­ries in safe ways,’’ he said.

- Ryan Dun­lop

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