Suicide prevention in focus
(Picture caption: The LifeKeepers Awards were recently staged in Christchurch, recognising ordinary people doing extraordinary things to save lives and prevent suicides in their communities.)
Suicide is a tragedy for any community, occurring with regularity in New Zealand.
The Coroner’s report on annual provisional suicide states 668 New Zealanders were lost to suicide in the last year and these findings emphasise the importance for suicide prevention strategies to be available in all communities, to address various stressors New Zealanders may face, and contribute to suicide risk.
Waka Hourua is New Zealand's national Māori and Pasifika suicide prevention programme, funded by the Ministry of Health. It is led by Te Rau Matatini, the National Centre for Māori Health and Le Va, specialising in Pacific mental health and wellbeing.
As part of the Waka Hourua partnership, Le Va has developed the FLO Pasifika for Life programme (FLO), a community based programme which aims to empower and equip Pacific communities with culturally relevant knowledge and tools to prevent suicide, and to respond safely and effectively when suicide occurs.
Under the guidance of Le Va Chief Executive Dr Monique Faleafa, the FLO team is led by Leilani Clarke who has played an integral role in delivering FLO Talanoa - a suicide prevention education programme led by communities for communities.
FLO Talanoa facilitators receive free training from Le Va and reciprocate by delivering free workshops in their communities – in response our communities take ownership and leadership of suicide prevention community action plans.
Facilitators have translated the programme to various Pacific languages to suit their communities’ needs.
Other FLO projects include Aunty Dee online problem-solving tool and the Mental Wealth project, delivering mental health literacy to young people.
Aunty Dee won an e-mental health innovation award in 2017.
Another Le Va initiative to help prevent suicide is LifeKeepers – National Suicide Prevention Training, led by Clinical Psychologist Denise Kingi-Uluave.
Dr Faleafa says you can think of LifeKeepers like first aid training, giving people the skills to recognise and support those at risk of suicide.
The free LifeKeepers training has been primarily designed for people who are likely to interact with people at risk of suicide including those in community or frontline roles such as support workers, sports coaches, emergency service personnel, church leaders, school counsellors, youth workers, Māori wardens, caregivers, Kaumatua and community leaders.
Delivered through face-to-face workshops and available through online learning, LifeKeepers also aims to meet the needs of Māori communities through Mana Akiaki, a tailored version of the programme designed in partnership with Te Rau Matatini and Professor Sir Mason Durie, to enhance the learning through a te ao Māori lens.
Recently, the LifeKeepers Awards were staged in Christchurch, recognising ordinary people doing extraordinary things to save lives and prevent suicides in their communities.
Dr Faleafa says the LifeKeepers awards help change the conversation about suicide, from a reactive, negative narrative, to an empowered narrative focused on hope.
“We’re doing this by acknowledging and learning from the amazing work led by people from within their own communities who are preventing suicide every day," she adds.
Brian Lowe of Youthline Otago was awarded the overall LifeKeepers award supreme winner.
The Manager of Youthline Otago started working in suicide prevention as a volunteer, and over a decade he has supported individuals and communities, trained volunteers and led the development of new policies designed to improve Youthline’s capacity and response to people at risk of suicide.
Since the launch of LifeKeepers almost a year ago, over 700 people have completed the training and 27 workshops have been facilitated across the country.
Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.
Healthline – 0800 611 116
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)