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It’s not the festive season for everyone


Christmas can be a nightmare for the recently bereaved. It’s particularly challenging for those trying to come to terms with a suicide by family members or friends, the Skylight says.

“In parts of the country like Otaki, there are parents coming to terms with the recent suicide of a loved one. Theirs is a particularly poignant grief,” Skylight Chief Executive Heather Henare says.

“There is the empty chair at the table or around the barbeque. There are the presents bought, but no longer able to be given. There are so many tangible reminders.

“Absence of a loved one at times of celebration is a painful reminder of what we have lost. That sense of loss is at its most acute with suicide.”

Ms. Henare said requests to Skylight for support have risen 51 percent since late July when the organisation launched its Resilience Hub, an online toolbox for those dealing with tough times.

“The demand for suicide support is up a staggering 71 percent over the same period. At this point last year I recall thinking that, ‘this is as bad as it gets’. Sadly it is not,” she said.

The provisional Coroner’s Report 2018 states that suicides have risen 10% over last year’s figures. Female suicides have risen. Male Māori continue to be disproportionally represented in the suicide statistics, with 97 deaths last year.

“The flow-on from this is that people need support to get through the impact of suicide bereavement. More people are aware of the need to adequately support those affected – But how do we do this?”

“Organisations like ours are doing our best to cope with the growing demand, but it is fast outstripping resources. We simply can’t keep up with the growing demand without funding. Skylight Trust receives a small contract to provide training for the post suicide programme called Waves.”

Chair Jim Donovan says, “Sadly we get no funding for the counselling work and support packs provided by the Resilience Hub and Resource Centre. With the increasing demand for Skylight’s services the challenge is, how to continue to provide enough of these essential mental health services that New Zealanders need.”

Skylight launched their Christmas Appeal last week. To support Skylight’s work and to help make a difference go to: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/skylights-christmas-appeal-2018

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