Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Lifeline to potential suicides

Carolyn Thomas writes in the Western Leader

Lifeline Aotearoa cultural adviser George Hill thinks it's time to do something about suicide rates among young Maori. So the kaumatua from South Head's Haranui Marae is working alongside clinical director Dr Stephen Edwards to trial a community-based suicide prevention course.

A marae setting, cultural protocol and detailed introductions are among changes to a Canadian programme which is already taught in communities world-wide. The Applied Suicide Intermediate Skills Training or ASIST course teaches the basics of recognising signs of someone at risk of suicide and making the right response.

"It's almost like CPR," Mr Hill says. "It's about keeping that person alive until there is more comprehensive help." Dr Edwards says young Maori men are over-represented in the suicide statistics. "New Zealand has one of the highest suicide rates in the world compared to other OECD countries." [Read the rest of the article here.]

The YSPP site notes this about warning signs relating to suicide:

Most suicidal young people don’t really want to die; they just want their pain to end. About 80% of the time, people who kill themselves have given definite signals or talked about suicide. The key to prevention is to know these signs and what to do to help.

Watch for these signs. They may indicate someone is thinking about suicide. The more signs you see, the greater the risk.

  • A previous suicide attempt
  • Current talk of suicide or making a plan
  • Strong wish to die or a preoccupation with death
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Signs of depression, such as moodiness, hopelessness, withdrawal
  • Increased alcohol and/or other drug use
  • Hinting at not being around in the future or saying good-bye

These warning signs are especially noteworthy in light of:

  • a recent death or suicide of a friend or family member
  • a recent break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or conflict with parents
  • news reports of other suicides by young people in the same school or community

Other key risk factors include:

  • Readily accessible firearms
  • Impulsiveness and taking unnecessary risks
  • Lack of connection to family and friends (no one to talk to)
[Mike Crowl notes:] Around 25 years ago, three young men who'd been connected with our church - and a fourth who went to another Pentecostal church - killed themselves. In each case the main reason was a recent breakup with a girl friend. We have a tendency to think that young men aren't affected by relationship break-ups - and certainly, many don't appear to be - but even without these 'warning signs' from ASIST, I would have placed this high on the list of possible reasons for a young man committing suicide.

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