Retreat is good idea, mum says
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.