Cantabrians still need our support, says Rural Women NZ
6 September 2013
Cantabrians still need our support, says Rural Women New Zealand
As we pass the third anniversary of the Canterbury earthquake on 4 September 2010, Rural Women New Zealand says government support services and community groups must continue to focus on those who are still suffering disruption, stress and heartache as a result.
“It’s no longer front page news outside Canterbury, but many Cantabrians are still struggling to cope on a daily basis,” says Rural Women NZ national councillor for Canterbury, Kerry Maw.
“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 has been found between the quakes and suicides, the stresses experienced by ‘quake migrants’ from Christchurch’s eastern suburbs who have shifted to North Canterbury, and economic pressures amongst the farming community, are likely to be significant factors.
Kerry Maw says there is a need to break the ‘code of silence’ around suicide, so agencies can gather information that will enable them to develop suitable programmes to reduce suicide in the future.
There was some positive news in the recent Coroners’ statistics, including a decrease in suicides in Christchurch itself, as well as amongst young people and Maori.
“While it’s encouraging to see that there are generally improved statistics around suicide, the upward trend for North Canterbury, and for the elderly, indicates more community support and intervention is required.”
In the case of rural elderly, access to health services, transport and housing can be very challenging. On top of that they may 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’s important people know where they can go for help, such as the free services provided for earthquake recovery by Relationship Services,” says Mrs Maw.
“And as part of a caring community, we all of 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 New Zealand members donated funds that enabled 80 rural people to receive counselling through Pegasus health.
Realising that post-traumatic stress may emerge months or even years after a traumatic experience, Rural Women New Zealand is set to re-launch its fundraising drive at its AGM in November for Cantabrians and others suffering post-traumatic stress, with the aim of delivering further counselling services.