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Health and safety: An Industry suicide prevention approach

Health and safety - An Industry suicide prevention approach

World Suicide Prevention Day is fast approaching and Lifeline Aotearoa is urging the public to learn vital skills to help prevent suicide.

Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives’ is the theme for 2015, organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organisation. The day is a call-to-action to individuals and organizations to prevent suicide.

This year on September 10th people around the globe will be participating in a range of activities. As part of New Zealand’s contribution, Lifeline Aotearoa will be providing the acclaimed ASIST - Suicide First Aid Intervention course in Tauranga and New Plymouth.

“This is an important day globally for suicide prevention.” says Jo Denvir, CEO of Lifeline Aotearoa. “Proven suicide prevention education training should be part of every community plan, so that’s why we have released a number of free seats to community members for both of these trainings.”

ASIST is a programme that teaches specific life-saving tools in a standardized way. “Anyone can learn suicide first aid.” Ms Denvir continues. “We teach GP’s, psychologists, kaumatua, kuia, educators, mental health nurses, elder-care workers, volunteers – a whole range of people with differing responsibilities and occupations.”

There isn’t an industry or occupation untouched by suicide. With the new Health and Safety reform bill in place, suicide prevention and crisis pathways are two areas Ms Denvir hopes are looked at by organisations.

“The reality of workplace stress is widely known, the legal profession is a good example of an industry that rates highly in depression and suicide statistics internationally.” Says Ms Denvir.

Industry responses are critical in reducing suicides. The New Zealand Law Society has worked with Lifeline Aotearoa to create supportive processes and pathways for industry professionals bereaved by the suicide of a colleague or at risk of suicide themselves.

Ms Denvir is a huge fan of MATES in Construction in Australia. “What the construction industry is doing in Australia is changing the way we view suicide prevention in the workplace.”

When asked why she thinks MATES in construction has been so successful, Ms Denvir is quick to respond. “They use the ASIST and safeTALK programmes and have trained their own industry professionals to deliver the workshops. So, essentially the knowledge permeates through the industry from the inside out.”

This is a view that Jorgen Gullestrup from MATES in construction agrees with. Mr Gullestrup believes their greatest strength, and the key to their success, is in the industry itself choosing to make suicide prevention a priority for their workers and their families.

Speaking to a New Zealand audience last year Mr Gullestrup said, “Suicide prevention is everyone's business, let everybody have a role to play, and we could actually use the programmes (ASIST and safeTALK) to say well guess what, the project manager has a role to play, but so does the apprentice, and so does the builder's labourer, and so does the person in the office.”

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please contact Lifeline's 24/7 Suicide Crisis Helpline 0508 TAUTOKO (82 88 65).


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