Earthquake support is still needed in Canterbury, says
Three years on from the Canterbury earthquake of September 4,
2010, Rural Women New Zealand said government support
services and community groups must continue to focus on those
victims who were still suffering disruption, stress and
''It is no longer front-page news outside Canterbury, but
many Cantabrians are still struggling to cope on a daily
basis,'' Rural Women NZ Canterbury national councillor Kerry
''Just recently we heard of a significant spike in North
Canterbury's suicide rate in 2012, with a further increase in
numbers this year.''
While no direct connection had been found between the quakes
and suicides, the stresses experienced by ''quake migrants''
from Christchurch's eastern suburbs who shifted to North
Canterbury and economic pressures in the farming community
were likely to be significant factors.
Mrs Maw said there was a need to break the ''code of
silence'' around suicide, so agencies could gather
information to enable them to develop suitable programmes to
reduce suicide in the future.
She said there was some positive news in the recent Coroners'
statistics, including a decrease in suicides in Christchurch
itself, as well as among young people and Maori.
''While it is encouraging to see that there are generally
improved statistics around suicide, the upward trend for
North Canterbury and the elderly indicates more community
support and intervention is required.''
In the case of rural elderly, access to health services,
transport and housing could be challenging.
Many may also be dealing with the recent death of a spouse,
loneliness and loss of identity or a sense of having no
meaningful role to play in society.
''It is important people know where they can go for help,
such as the free services provided for earthquake recovery by
Relationship Services,'' Mrs Maw said.
''And as part of a caring community, we all need to be aware
of elderly living in our midst, and the small things we can
all do to help. People can make a real difference.''
Following the Canterbury earthquakes, Rural Women members
donated funds to enable 80 rural people to receive
counselling through Pegasus health.
Realising post-traumatic stress could emerge months or even
years after a traumatic experience, Rural Women would be
relaunching its fundraising drive at its AGM in November for
Cantabrians and others suffering post-traumatic stress, with
the aim of delivering further counselling services.
- by David Hill