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Suicide awareness and prevention presentation

Filed under: Events — Julie @ 3:49 pm Wed 1st December 2010

I thought I’d put this up here because it’s become a big event and men’s representative Jim Bagnall is presenting something special about fathers plight and suicide and by the looks of it Murray will be video taping the event. Also, I chased up a teenager who left a comment on a post by Mike in May 2008 and then met up with the mother the article was about. She [Maria Bradshaw] is remarkable and already changes are taking place in New Zealand regarding suicide awareness.

We’d love for men and women who read this site to come along and support as well as learn some.

ORGANISATIONS are banding together in the battle against suicide, which claims more Kiwi lives per year than the road toll and you are invited to come listen to speakers sensitive to the subject and the latest unfortunate events in Papakura.

Debbie Swanwick, of the Auckland Single Parents Trust, says East Auckland has the highest rate of suicide of men aged 40-60 in the western world.

Suicide prevention group Casper and the trust are holding a public meeting to share personal stories, current practices and other options to try reduce the number of people who take their own lives.

The meeting will take place on Sunday, December 5, from 3-6pm at the Senior Citizens Hall, 8 East Street, Papakura.

Casper, which stands for Community Action on Suicide Prevention Education and Research, was co-founded by Maria Bradshaw, who has been campaigning for suicide awareness and change since the death of her son, Toran Henry, at the age of 17 in 2008.

Jim Bagnall, of Project Reunion, who has worked with more than 10,000 fathers and mothers dealing with separations over the past 12 years, will present “The Black Hole”, a place people reach prior to taking their own lives. “People naturally revert to their instinctual level where self harm or harm to others can take place”, he says. “The system to some degree is not coping and experiences can fill in the gaps”.

Other speakers include representatives of Counties Manukau Mental Health and a secondary school student who has experienced depression.

The meeting will coincide with the opening of the South Auckland division of Auckland Single Parents Trust, and will start with a performance by dance group The Geeks.
For enquiries, email [email protected]


  1. Thanks for your initiative Julie, this is so important.

    It is sad that you are approaching suicide in a negative way – the best way forward is doing and setting an example in the positive, as shown so simply and successfully by Dr. Graham Flemming, from Tumby Bay, Adelaide.

    An approach to Rural Suicide by Dr Graham Fleming

    The importance of a positive approach can be seen from our tongue in cheeks cuddly friend, Ms IRD Officer:

    Though she walks in the Valley of Death at IRD, she is apparently immune from suicide, because she isn’t taking it seriously, she is having the most fun that you can have without laughing, she isn’t identifying with the bleeders.

    The men working at IRD-CS do suffer as much suicide risk as the bleeders, because they do take it seriously and they do identify with the bleeders, even if they try not to.

    But I am not criticising, as Ms IRD Officer is sharing her wisdom with us, so how could we complain? We must sort the chaff, from her wheat.

    As suicides start from 5 or 6 years old, whatever we do to make our children stronger from the occasional temptation to chill out through completed suicide, we must complete the training before our children reach 5 years old!

    The seeds of impulsivity are sown in the first 12 months of life, so the quality of our responding to our children, of our care for our littlest ones, is hugely important to them navigating the highs and the lows of everyday life and misunderstandings, right throughout their life. So, be there for your children, when they need you the most, not just when it might suit you. Just giving your breast freely is not sufficient, it is the quality of response to your child’s cries and needs, that later gives protection from suicide.

    Much of our culture has echoes and reflections of suicide themes scattered through it. The ambiguity and contradictions alas, confuse and trip some of our children into the potholes called suicide. We need to rethink our culture and pull out these dangerous themes, where misunderstandings can scare or mislead our children into early death.

    The icing on the cake, is our sometimes dishonesty, so that our children don’t trust some of the things we most want to tell them. Dishonesty isn’t always deliberate, but the reactions our children may make, are sometimes chillingly final and deliberate.

    Just a little care, when the risks are highest, can make a big impact in protecting our children, even our fully grown children.

    Protecting the fathers

    Fighting suicide isn’t fun, but living a fun and sticky fun life is.

    Professor Graham Martin tells in submission 107, about the totally unexplained suicide of a 15 year old girl and the intensity of the impacts on so many people whom she inadvertently affected:

    The Impact of Adolescent Suicide — A clinical story – extract

    The experience which led to my involvement in Suicide Prevention as a passionate career choice within Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, was a 15 year old girl who forged her mother’s signature on a request to go to the Orthodontist, left her private girls’ school, travelled into Adelaide by bus, and jumped from the 9th floor car park of John Martin’s Store on North Terrace. I subsequently came to work with the family in part to explore the history further, but also to provide grief work support for well over a year.

    Christina’s mother died from a heart attack (‘? A broken heart’) some 18 months later; she just could not come to terms with her daughter’s death. The older sister (the only surviving child) herself completed suicide about 3 years later,
    overwhelmed by the loss of her sister and mother. The father developed hypertension and died of renal failure 10 years later. They all suffered immensely emotionally, and just could not understand the death of a perfect daughter.

    When Christina landed on the pavement of North Terrace, she was within 10 feet of a young male nurse. He did what he could, handed over to the Ambulance people, and went on his way to work. By chance he was a friend of my younger son (Adelaide is a small place), and 3 months later on a visit to my home he began with “You knew that girl who killed herself…?” and broke down and cried for the next 3 hours. He needed ongoing care for several months, and when we meet occasionally now he still recalls aspects of the trauma. An accidental bystander — like the 10 or so others I never met.

    Two years later, I presented to a Rotary Club meeting one night (one of many), and told the story to engage the audience in the problem of suicide. After the meeting, the Ex?manager of John Martin’s bailed me up for some time to tell his story, and weep. He had never sought care or support, but Christina’s death was
    in many ways the last straw before leaving the job.

    In Christina’s school we set up a process of grief work with 30 teachers. Several teachers were distraught, had taken time off school, and raised issues of their competence to look after young women. The class teacher was very traumatised, and raised one question that was very hard to consider: “What do I do with the desk?” The consensus was that she should ask the girls from the class; the desk was left for the next month, and then moved to the back of the class for the end of term. Every day a fresh flower was placed on the desk.

    The work with the girls entailed 30 young women with whom we spent over 2 hours, who then completed questionnaires. Through this, the results from the scales, and from other discussion, we found out that 2 girls had attempted suicide one the day after, and one within the week after Christina’s death (“If she can succeed, then I need to give it another go…”), at least 8 more deserved formal assessment, and 4 were placed in therapy.

    This description of events is not unusual. Various estimates of the ripple effect out from a suicide have suggested it might be 6 to10 people who are badly affected, including family members. My personal experience is that this is a gross underestimate, and the costs from inability to work are hidden and not
    accounted for in calculations that exist.

    Members of the Senate Inquiry, you will hear a wide range of estimates of the cost (perhaps somewhere around $250,000 per suicide), but the personal and social costs over time are immeasurable. Every thing we can do to reduce the numbers in Australia reduces the pain, reduces the exposure, reduces the copycat behaviour, reduces the inner sense in all of our minds (and the pervasive belief in our society) that suicide is always an option.

    Christina’s case raises another issue that is rarely considered. She was never abused, came from a caring middle class family, was a straight A student, played second violin in the orchestra, and played in the school soccer team. She was well liked by staff and students, and despite an intense search through her writings to
    find some clue, one was never found. The dilemma is …. How do you prevent this kind of not so rare suicide? There is no Early Intervention, we never get to analyse risks or get a risk form completed, we never get the opportunity to prevent — except afterward. To my mind this raises some fundamental issues
    about our society, how we parent, how we instil Resilience and Optimism in young people, how we keep them connected to family, friends and groups and clubs. You will hear lots about the Pathways to Suicide, about suicide in those with mental illness, or from special groups, and this may be about services,
    professional skill, the use of psychotherapy and medication.

    On the other hand, we will only stop the Christinas of our world by Universal programs in our communities, schools and families, through Mental Wellness Promotion, by developing a sane sensible and caring Australian society. If that sounds too broad or too loosely construed so be it.

    Christina’s death led my team (then at Flinders University) to devise school-based programs. First, we did 17 cross sectional studies that built to a large?scale 3?year longitudinal study of risk in young people. We said to ourselves: “ If we can discover so many troubled and suicidal people after a suicide, why can’t we find them before someone dies?”

    Comment by Anne-Marie Hedonia — Wed 1st December 2010 @ 10:29 pm

  2. Anne-Marie,

    Thank you for your beautifully written comment and the information you’ve shared.

    I am somewhat excited you dropped the name Dr Graham Fleming. Hopefully your comment is seen by another here who has been telling me about this same person.

    It is sad that you are approaching suicide in a negative way

    I am somewhat hurt by this remark but pleased you acknowledged the initiative. I have a feeling you may understand how difficult doing what we are doing here is and that from up high to down low (all are equal under the heavens but we grade our education etc), there’s a lot of different views on how this should be approached and it’s been challenging as well as rewarding so far.

    I hope you can make it and I hope we can all work together.

    Comment by Julie — Thu 2nd December 2010 @ 6:00 am

  3. This was fantastic. Someone said, “The best we’ve (single parents) done so far.” I’m still very fond of the meeting we held for fathers on zero money out West Auckland just before ‘fathering our city’ took off but still, it WAS AWESOME.

    Thanks to Murray for all the advice and help with equipment. Honestly, you’re my hero for what you did.

    Comment by julie — Mon 6th December 2010 @ 11:12 am

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