Effort to provide skills for preventing suicides

Annette Beautrais.
Annette Beautrais.
Giving those in close contact with vulnerable people some pointers on what to say and where to seek help is the latest tool in a range of measures aimed at reducing the number of suicides in Central Otago.

A workshop on suicide prevention will be held in Alexandra on August 25.

The evening is run by the Otago Suicide Prevention Trust and is aimed at "first responders" — not just police, ambulance staff and firefighters, but also people such as Work and Income New Zealand staff, Victim Support volunteers and school guidance counsellors, trust co-chairman Ian Kerrisk said.

Annette Beautrais is the presenter and the workshop will give people the practical knowledge, skills and confidence to recognise people at risk of suicidal behaviour and refer them to the appropriate resources.

"Our focus for this workshop is ‘first responders’ — anyone who every day works with people who may be vulnerable or show signs of suicidal behaviour," Mr  Kerrisk said.

The trust was covering the cost and hoped the workshop would be the first in a series.

Future ones would be open to  staff at other businesses, for example, human resources personnel or those involved in pastoral care, he said.

"The aim is to equip as many people in the community as possible with these skills, having that backyard knowledge so they can take action or point vulnerable people to the appropriate group or agency to help.

"We’re not saying anyone will become an expert but they’ll gain enough knowledge to be able to start a conversation and keep that conversation going with a person who may be feeling vulnerable."

Prof Beautrais is an adjunct professor at the University of Canterbury and suicide prevention co-ordinator at the South Canterbury District Health Board.

Her work focuses on translating suicide research into effective intervention and prevention programmes.

Trust community co-ordinator Julie Duffy recently attended a workshop presented by Prof Beautrais and said it was excellent: "she’s very knowledgeable and approachable."

People have until August 19 to register for the Alexandra workshop at j.cduffy@hotmail.com.

The trust has recently set up a suicide bereavement group which meets every six weeks for coffee.

"Families and friends of people who have taken their own lives can sit down and talk to someone who been through what they’ve been through," Mr Kerrisk said.

It was an informal get-together with anyone welcome.

The trust was set up two years ago.

Warren Lees has just replaced Cam Dykes as one of the five trustees.

Mr Dykes had to step down because of work commitments and at the same time, Mr Lees offered his support to the organisation, Mr Kerrisk said.

● Suicide prevention workshop, Alexandra Community House, August 25, 5.30pm-9pm. 


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 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Youthline: 0800-376-633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz

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