On the front foot against sui­cide

Waitaki Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

12 peo­ple who have died by sui­cide.

On Satur­day, she joined Ki­wis from both ends of the coun­try to kick­start a cam­paign to boost aware­ness of the is­sue.

At both Cape Reinga and Bluff, 579 pairs of empty shoes were put on dis­play, a stark il­lus­tra­tion of the num­ber of Ki­wis who com­mit­ted sui­cide in 2016. Sim­i­lar dis­plays will make their way across both is­lands over the next month, cul­mi­nat­ing in a fi­nal event held out­side Par­lia­ment on Septem­ber 10.

Yeswe­care.nz, which is or­gan­is­ing the shoe cam­paign, wants the govern­ment to hold an ur­gent in­quiry into the state of New Zealand’s men­tal health, and set a sui­cide preven­tion target.

Ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics pro­vided by Coro­nial Ser­vices, sui­cide rates have re­mained steady at 12 per 100,000 over the past 10 years. While this fig­ure is above av­er­age com­pared to the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s global fig­ure of 10.7, New Zealand’s teen sui­cide rate is the high­est in the de­vel­oped world.

The Can­ter­bury DHB re­ported the most sui­cides in 2016, with 78 (the next high­est was Waikato DHB with 55).

Since her first ex­pe­ri­ence with sui­cide in 2010, Pur­due has gone through guilt, grief and her own bat­tle with de­pres­sion.

‘‘It was horrific, I felt guilty and have lived in self-blame for a long time,’’ she said.

Hav­ing gone through her own strug­gle with de­pres­sion af­ter the birth of her son, Pur­due said hav­ing peo­ple around to sup­port her was crit­i­cal.

‘‘I needed some­one to come to me, be­cause I didn’t know how to say that I was de­pressed. You’re just in this ab­so­lute tur­moil and you’re re­ally not think­ing straight,’’ she said.

Even­tu­ally a friend who had also suf­fered de­pres­sion recog­nised what she was strug­gling with, Pur­due said.

Pur­due said she is de­ter­mined to use her ex­pe­ri­ence to help oth­ers, and is plan­ning to start a com­mu­nity project to help those af­fected by men­tal health is­sues.

‘‘It’s time to break the si­lence. Love is the key, we just need to be there for our friends and fam­ily and the peo­ple in our com­mu­nity, in the best way we can.’’ ❚ The Shoe Project will be in Oa­maru on Wed­nes­day August 30, 11am-2pm. Check the Face­book page for de­tails.

Jess Pur­due says hav­ing friends who sup­ported her made all the dif­fer­ence in her own strug­gle with de­pres­sion. ‘‘If you feel like you have peo­ple who un­der­stand you, it takes away that in­tense feel­ing of you be­ing alone.’’

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