Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean, who will visit Dunedin, Oamaru, and Invercargill this week to discuss suicide. Photo by ODT.
A public meeting in Dunedin about suicide is hopefully the
start of greater co-ordination and leadership of prevention
efforts, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of
Psychiatrists community member Graham Roper says.
Southern District Health Board is hosting Chief Coroner Judge
Neil MacLean and celebrity Mike King in the South this week.
They will visit Oamaru today, Invercargill tomorrow and
Dunedin on Friday.
The Dunedin public meeting will be held at 5.30pm, at the
Dunningham Suite of Dunedin City Library.
Earlier on Friday, social care agencies will meet Judge
MacLean and Mr King.
Mr King was not available to attend the public meeting.
Mr Roper said there had been a lack of co-ordination and
leadership from the health board in suicide prevention.
Mr Roper hoped that would change, engendering more services
for people who might be considering suicide, and discussion
of the causes of suicide.
He said there had not been a public meeting locally about
suicide for several years.
Public Health South medical officer of health Derek Bell, in
a press release, said the board wanted to make the community
aware it was ''OK to talk about suicide and not hide the
At the same time, it was not acceptable to sensationalise it,
''Judge MacLean has been an advocate for improved suicide
reporting in the health and media sectors so we are keen to
hear his recommendations on media coverage, the facts behind
the statistics, postvention response, and how the coronial
''One key preventive factor is to build and support
communities to connect all the individuals within it in
supportive and valuing ways. The Chief Coroner's visit
provides an ideal opportunity to do that,'' Dr Bell said.
Judge MacLean, in the health board press release, said New
Zealand's suicide was stubbornly persistent.
''Coroners aren't experts in suicide prevention, but we can
see what is going on and make recommendations. The strongest
message is that we should try to avoid speculation and rumour
relating to suicides.
''I have advocated a gentle opening up of suicide reporting
in New Zealand. However, it is vital that this is done
cautiously and responsibly.''
Where to get help
Depression Helpline (8am-midnight): 0800-111-757
Samaritans: 0800-211-211/(04) 473-9739
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508-828-865
Youthline: 0800-376-633, free text 234 or email
What's Up (for 5-18 year olds; 1pm-11pm):
Kidsline (for children 14 and under; 4pm-6pm
• If it is an emergency, call