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Kaitaia Hui on Suicide Solutions Starts Saturday

Media Release

Northland District Health Board – for immediate release

June 21 2017

Kaitaia Hui on Suicide Solutions Starts Saturday

A hui near Kaitaia this weekend aims to improve local resilience against suicides of youth and other people.

The Hīnātore / Light of Hope hui at Kareponia Marae in Awanui is a free event, open to all and spread over two days. Organised by the Muriwhenua branch of Ngāti Hine Health Trust youth suicide prevention group R.A.I.D. (Responding to All In Distress), facilitators include experienced Māori clinical psychologist Paora Te Oti Takarangi Joseph, Rebecca Hooker of RAID Movement and Northland DHB Resilience Programme Lead Tania Papali’i. Guest speakers include Dr Hinemoa Elder.

The hui is open to all community members, whānau and groups to make contributions and while Māori and youth are often associated with suicides in the Far North, the hui is about shedding light on suicide prevention for any people of any age or culture.

Topics covered will include suicide prevention strategies, suicide myths, tika/pono/aroha, the importance of shedding shame and guilt, reshaping thoughts and safety and support strategies.

Paora has 17 years’ experience applying clinical psychology to Māori and wrote his thesis when the country was seeing unfortunate spikes in Māori youth suicide. Paora said Saturday’s hui should reach youth effectively in that it is organised by the young outreach workers and ambassadors of RAID Muriwhenua, who look and talk like the people they are working to help.

“Research shows that youth role models or mentors have the best influence on other young people and are more likely to communicate about suicide intent or ideation,” Paora said, “Hence the work that RAID is doing is very important.” Saturday’s hui will be about open and blameless discussion around suicide risk, now that New Zealand is finally becoming better at communicating around suicide issues.

“One of the most problematic things has been secrecy, and fear around it being discussed in general,” Paora said. “If people ignore it as a subject to be discussed, that can potentially increase risk. Communication is not something not to be afraid of. The main theme of the day will be the importance of how to start a conversation around suicide. Also it’ll be about persuading other people that it is okay to feel the way you do. It’s also about raising awareness of who is available around to support emotional issues.”

One thing the Far North can do to be resilient is to look at how healthy communities were maintained in the past, Paora said. “We don’t meet in halls as often as we used to […] so it’s important to have places in the community where people can meet and feel supported, whether that’s a marae or a church.”

“In the old days anyone could make a contribution on the marae. One of the biggest risk factors going under the radar is a lack of young people feeling they are making a contribution to their community outside of the job they work in.”

Across Māori, Pakeha and other societies the factors leading to suicide are the same, Paora said. “It’s our society that has changed. Fewer families live next door to each other like they used to; farmers now don’t have their cousins living down the road like they used to. Less collective living is a huge risk factor.”

This weekend’s hui is about finding positive solutions for those who share their story to take away. One of the solutions will be motivating Far North residents to reinforce the area’s pro-social factors instead of its challenges. This means celebrating the Far North’s strengths and assets including arts, culture, successful individuals and important tipuna. Far North locals should also reflect on the youth drop-in centre managed by Te Hiku Hauora, the by-Northland, for-Northland play UPSTANDER, which is touring Northland schools this month, and the efforts of RAID Movement to utilise local youth as suicide prevention ambassadors.

Organiser Rebecca Hooker said the RAID movement has been around since the first spike of youth suicides in the Far North, and Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean noted in his 2014 report on suicides that movements like RAID can correlate with decreases in youth suicide.

RAID’s work has included a road show where RAID members travelled the north visiting schools and communities spreading the message of positivity and pro-life, as well as hui around Kaitaia as recently as December 2016.

Paora, who is also a film maker, will shortly release the film Maui’s Hook which follows five whānau on a hikoi from Parihaka mountain to Te Rerenga Wairua (Spirits Bay) and addresses what happens when we make the choice to take our lives, and how whānau of those who have chosen to do so can put those suicides in the past.

Paora, who grew up in Ruawai and whose daughter is of Ngāti Hine descent, works on suicide prevention from Waiheke Island sometimes alongside guest speaker Dr Hinemoa Elder. “As a psychiatrist, Hinemoa brings that medical and empirical approach as well as cultural background,” Paora said. “Both are important.”

Paora praised Northland DHB organiser Tania Papali’i who has quietly been working on suicide prevention for years now. “Tania is one of the top suicide prevention coordinators in the country, especially in terms of her networks. The beauty about Tania is she has respect from communities and will look at it from a grassroots point of view, while keeping in mind DHBs, PHOs and upskilling workers. It’s amazing how she pulls people in.”

• Anyone wishing to discuss suicide-related issues straight away should phone the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

• Anyone wanting to connect with the RAID Movement can reach out by clicking this link and messaging RAID on Facebook.

• The invitation for Saturday’s hui can be found on Facebook

• Powhiri 10am Saturday June 24, Accommodation and kai will be available. All are welcome. RSVP via email or Facebook . Address: Kareponia Marae is 5988 SH10, Awanui, Kaitaia

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