Sharing stories on social media ‘healing’
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