Coroner to lead talk on suicide

Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean, who will visit Dunedin, Oamaru, and Invercargill this week to...
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 issue''.

At the same time, it was not acceptable to sensationalise it, he said.

''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 system works.

''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

Lifeline: 0800-543-354

Depression Helpline (8am-midnight): 0800-111-757

Healthline: 0800-611-116.

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): 0800-942-8787

Kidsline (for children 14 and under; 4pm-6pm weekdays): 0800-543-754

 If it is an emergency, call 111


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