Workshops teach suicide alertness

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The often taboo subject of suicide is to be discussed at a series of three suicide alertness training workshops.
Mataura-based group Mind Matters is hosting the safeTALK workshops in Mataura, Edendale and Wyndham next month.
SafeTALK workshop tutor and Mind Matters group organiser Eleanor Ranstead said New Zealand had one of the highest suicide rates in the world. At any one time, at least 5% of New Zealand’s population was experiencing suicidal thoughts, which for a nation of 4 million meant 225,000 New Zealanders were struggling with these thoughts, Mrs Ranstead said.
‘‘With this being such a big problem in our society, do you know how to recognise when those around us are experiencing thoughts of suicide?’’ Mrs Ranstead asked.
Mind Matters members believed suicide was a community issue and one everyone could do something about.
‘‘Whether directly or indirectly, most people with thoughts of suicide invite help to stay safe,’’ she said.
SafeTALK is a four-hour training that prepares participants to recognise these invitations and connect aperson with thoughts of suicide to intervention resources.
‘‘As part of the programme, we will present powerful videos to illustrate the importance of suicide alertness, while discussion and practice stimulate learning.’’
By the end of the training, participants will be better able to recognise people who have suicidal thoughts; move beyond common tendencies to miss, dismiss, or avoid suicide; and apply the TALK steps of tell, ask, listen and keep safe, to connect a person with thoughts of suicide to a suicide first-aid intervention caregiver.
The workshop is open to people aged 15-plus.
Mrs Ranstead said she had been working towards hosting the workshops for some time.
Many people dismissed the subject or avoided it because of fear, she said.
‘‘People generally don’t know how to respond.’’
People became suicidal for a variety of reasons. Some were depressed, while others had a combination of bad circumstances hit them all at the same time, she said.
Then their thinking could become distorted and confused.
If a person talked about what was going on in their head, they often found it did not line up with reality, she said.
Suicide did not affect only one age group; people from teens through to the elderly could have suicidal thoughts, Mrs Ranstead said.
The elderly could feel they were a burden on society and had no value, she said.
‘‘So it’s right across the board.’’
Lifeline is the organisation delivering the global programme in New Zealand.