The New Zealand Maori Council in partnership with the National Maori Authority has launched a new resource for targeting suicide prevention and Maori. Called “How to have a Korero” the free resource aims to raise awareness of the signs that someone might be in trouble, what to do and how to respond. Maori Council and National Maori Authority Chair, Matthew Tukaki (who is also the Chairman of Suicide Prevention Australia) has said that one of the biggest impacts everyone can have is knowing what to look out for:
“We all know the data that Maori now have the highest suicide rate per head of population across developed nations and what we need to do, other than systems and service reform, is develop easy to access and easy to understand information that really starts from the beginning – helping people to recognise when someone might be struggling” Tukaki said
“The harsh reality is that not every suicide is of those who had a pre-diagnosed mental health condition and a lot of cases come down to the inability to cope with the daily struggles of life. Some people struggle with a relationship breakdown, with challenges around work and small business, getting into debt and not seeing a way out – and yet in all of those cases there is something more we could have been doing.” Tukaki said
“How to have a korero has been designed around a couple of key things:
Recognising the signs: Some people display signs that they are not travelling so well. Some of the signs that someone might be in trouble include:
1. Changes in behaviour
2. Changes in sleeping patterns
3. Withdrawing from friends and family; social circles
4. Loss of interest in routine activities or work
5. Changes in eating habits or not eating at all
6. Mood swings
7. Mention of the word “Plan”
8. Putting their affairs in order or talking openly (and out of character when it comes to death)
9. Not turning up for planned events, family occasions or activities
10. The giving away of personal items or things of great value to them
How to have a conversation: Talking with a loved one about how they feel, and their emotions can be a challenge. Here are some pointers that could be of help to you:
1. Ask “Are you ok?” – by asking the question it shows you care, especially in a trusted friendship or family setting. The right environment is also key. It may be asking the question in a place that might be comfortable for the person or familiar to them.
2. Listen without judgement – it is important to listen and not judge, whatever the circumstances might be. We all face different situations in our lives and make different life choices. Whatever you do try not to leave a conversation midway through and turn off any interruptions such as your mobile phone.
3. Encourage action – try and guide them to a referral service or possible solution to the problem if you are able; or plant seeds of ideas that could lead to a solution.
4. Check in – always make sure you check in with them on a regular basis and follow up on your conversations – try and never leave someone feeling more isolated by a conversation than it was helpful.
The resource is currently available online and freely available. At the moment it is very much targeting Tane Maori and young people, but the plan is to further expand it:
“The aim is to now move the content into an online App that will be freely available to all New Zealanders and no; there has been no Government funding for this project at all. Our view is why wait for the Government to respond when we can try and find the resources ourselves.” Tukaki has said.