Re­treat is good idea, mum says

Taranaki Daily News - - News - JEN­NIFER EDER

A woman who runs a sui­cide sup­port group in Mal­bor­ough has been in­spired by the Taranaki Re­treat and wants to open one her­self.

Blen­heim woman Amy Elston has al­ready put her name on the wait­ing list to stay at the Taranaki Re­treat later this year, still strug­gling with her son Ben’s death in 2014.

The re­treat, run by Jamie Allen, opened in March with a goal of pre­vent­ing sui­cide by giv­ing peo­ple a place to es­cape and heal.

Elston wanted to cre­ate a sim­i­lar re­treat for Marl­bor­ough, hav­ing seen first­hand how peo­ple in the re­gion were strug­gling with se­vere de­pres­sion through her sui­cide sup­port group.

She started the group, Ben’s Bows, last year by launch­ing a Face­book page and a blog. The group was named af­ter the yel­low rib­bons used for sui­cide preven­tion cam­paigns.

‘‘It’s just for peo­ple who are down, de­pressed, any­one in the af­ter­math of sui­cide, so they can reach out. It’s a ter­ri­ble place to be, it’s the worst thing I’ve ever strug­gled with,’’ Elston said.

She was shocked by how many young peo­ple were hav­ing sui­ci­dal thoughts, she said.

‘‘Blen­heim has had a lot of sui­cides. A lot of youth. And I get a lot of par­ents who call me late at night to talk about their kids who have gone, same as me.’’

‘‘I think the South Is­land needs a re­treat, in the Blen­heim area where sui­cide is a big prob­lem. We could do it. There are funds out there. We can help each other. It’s just a mat­ter of putting those peo­ple [who want to help] to­gether. Be­ing able to go some­where with peo­ple who un­der­stand and where you don’t have to worry about any­thing, it’s very healing.’’

Marl­bor­ough area com­man­der In­spec­tor Si­mon Feltham said his team was called to some­one ‘‘self­harm­ing’’ about once ev­ery two days.

Marl­bor­ough po­lice had 194 call­outs to sui­cide at­tempts last year, up from 114 in 2013 and 88 in 2010.

They also went to a fur­ther 109 call­outs re­lated to men­tal health last year, up from 59 in 2010.

‘‘We work closely with the Men­tal Health Team based at Wairau Hospi­tal in deal­ing with th­ese in­ci­dents and would wel­come any fur­ther sup­port to this area,’’ Feltham said.

The Nel­son Marl­bor­ough Dis­trict Health Board said 45 peo­ple pre­sented at the Wairau Hospi­tal emer­gency depart­ment, in Blen­heim, with sui­ci­dal thoughts or in­tent in the year to Fe­bru­ary 28.

In the same pe­riod, 135 peo­ple con­tacted the Wither­lea Cri­sis Team with sui­ci­dal thoughts or be­hav­iour.

Those peo­ple were ei­ther ad­mit­ted to Wither­lea House, re­ceived treat­ment or made a fol­low-up ap­point­ment.

Board men­tal health, ad­dic­tions and dis­abil­ity sup­port ser­vices man­ager Jane Kin­sey said it was crit­i­cally im­por­tant peo­ple who were feel­ing sui­ci­dal were clin­i­cally as­sessed so they could be re­ferred for treat­ment in the ‘‘wide range’’ of sup­port ser­vices al­ready avail­able.

There was al­ready a ‘‘home away from home’’ avail­able in the form of Ha­pai Te Ora in Blen­heim, a fourbed­room house staffed 24 hours a day by the Wither­lea adult men­tal health team, Kin­sey said.

Peo­ple had to be re­ferred to the ser­vice by the men­tal health team.

They could also join the CARE Marl­bor­ough peer-led day pro­gramme, an in­for­mal group where peo­ple shared com­mon ex­pe­ri­ences, she said.

‘‘Any door is the right door for peo­ple who are feel­ing sui­ci­dal,’’ Kin­sey said.

Elston urged any­one who could con­trib­ute to a re­treat to get in touch.

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