When Your Head Spins
In the Media:
Political correctness chokes suicide funding
In an ill conceived and heavy-handed move the Government has put political correctness ahead of positive efforts to educate and help young people at risk of adding to New Zealand's reputation as the country with the highest youth suicide statistics in the developed world.
In May 2003 the government directly
interfered with efforts by independent, privately funded efforts
designed to get young people in schools talk through a important issues of life and
death and seek help.
However two months later in July 2003 the
Yellow Ribbon organisation was commended for its schoolyard training as
having a positive effect on youth. The study by Auckland University's
Injury Prevention Research Centre also indicated there was a desire
among Yellow Ribbon's teenage 'ambassadors' to have more training. The
group conducted the first major study into the organisation's "It's OK
to ask for help" campaign fronted by youth ambassadors who're supposed
to direct troubled youth to adults for assistance.
Yellow Ribbon met with government
representatives and was virtually forced to comply with new guidelines,
including reviewing its controversial Fight For Life fundraiser and
whether boxing was the right sport to raise funding. It was asked
to drop the term suicide in its work with schools.
Yellow Ribbon chairman Marco Marinkovich says the governments concerns about the use of the word suicide were 'PC' and took a sting out of the brand.
This government smear campaign smacks of earlier attempts to try and sweep
concerns about youth suicide under the carpet. Newspapers and media in
general were asked not to write stories about suicide cases and strict
guidelines were produced.
The mere suggestion that youth shouldn't talk to each other about suicide related issues or how they feel is an attempt at censorship. "Youth need to talk among themselves in an environment where they feel comfortable and should be provided with helpful pro-life information and contacts pointing them in the right direction for further help."
The government letter recommends schools
don't encourage students to talk about suicide directly or indirectly.
SOSAD warns this is not only an attempt to curb freedom of speech but to
bottle up the frustrations of youth which can only be safely tackled by
open and sensible dialogue.
"Surely this should be a matter for youth to decide themselves. Youth are far more broad in their thinking than we give them credit for. Putting the right information in their hands and encouraging them to talk about their hurts and frustrations can be an important part of getting their thinking back on track and realising they are not alone," says SOSAD.
Andrew Kay, executive director of Here for Life, ( http://www.hereforlife.org.au ) a suicide prevention campaign in Australia said international research destroyed the "myth" that raising awareness of suicide led to it.
He was disappointed government departments
were not working with and supporting prevention organisations like Yellow
The impact of suicide is like dropping a rock in a lake, the rings of pain
and consequence from that tragedy spread out to their family, their circle
of friends, their schoolmates and co-workers.
The real tragedy becomes clear when we see youth suicides
have hovered between 120 - 130 a year between 1990 to 1993 to 137 in
1994. The 1995 stats showed a leap to 156 suicides with 1310 hospital
admissions from failed attempts.
It is difficult to determine the exact investment the
Government has made in response to the current youth suicide crisis. The
president of the Association for Adolescent Health and Development, Peter
Watson says suicide trends will worsen unless millions more is spent on
youth health and suicide prevention.
Suicides down but still concern
suicide statistics for all ages released in April 2002, show 514 people died by
suicide in 1999 compared with 577 in 1998 and 561 in 1997. The 1999 total is the
lowest since 1994 (512), ministry spokeswoman Maria cotter said.
to know these rates can come down but the figures are still too high,” she said.
“Every suicide is a personal tragedy and devastates family and friends,
colleagues and communities.”
Suicide deaths have reduced among both Maori and non-Maori. The overall rate of suicide among Maori was the same as for non-Maori in 1999. But youth suicide rates are still significantly higher among Maori than non-Maori she said. Ms Cotter said preventing suicide was a priority under the New Zealand health strategy.
She said the Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy worked to reduce youth suicide with a specific focus on preventing suicide among Maori youth. This strategy launched in 1968 is now led by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and involves a number of government agencies.
– NZPA (25-04-02)
2000, 96 young people died from suicide. This was the lowest number of deaths
since 1987. Males accounted for over two-thirds of youth suicide deaths in 1999.
But for every completed suicide there are a far greater number of attempted
suicides, according to the Youth Affairs Department.
Naomi Larkin, New Zealand Herald (26-06-01)
to three Aucklanders kill themselves every week. A disproportionate
number of these deaths involve young men, and hanging is the most
favoured method of suicide for New Zealanders.
details were just one sample of a series of alarming statistics
presented at a Child and Youth Mortality Review (25 June 2001).
Ian Goodwin, liaison psychiatrist based at Auckland Hospital’s
emergency department told the forum that youth – particularly young
men – killed themselves in disproportionate numbers to the rest of the
suicides increased by 120 per cent between 1974 and 1994. “if that was
happening in any other area of health there would be a massive response.
About 500 new Zealanders kill themselves every year. In Auckland that
means about 150 on average or about one through the mortuary every three
days,” Dr Goodwin said.
Liz Segedin, director pediatric intensive care at Starship hospital said
90 per cent of child deaths were preventable. These included deaths of
pedestrians, passengers in cards, drowning and un-immunised children.
Suicide prevention is
Factors Influencing Youth Suicide
By Steve Tripp
Bachelor of Nursing Student (article found on the Internet)
One of the more disheartening health issues in New Zealand today is youth suicide. For the 15- 24 year old age bracket it is the second leading cause of death after motor vehicle crashes and it is increasing dramatically.
Between the years 1955 and 1989 the male youth rate increased by 630% while there was a 100% increase in the female rate over the same period. New Zealand is not alone in facing this rise in youth suicide rates. It seems to be occurring throughout the western world, but New Zealand and Australia are unique in that our youth suicide rates are higher than our overall suicide rates (Brett, 1993). (read on?)
The following contacts may be helpful for providing information about suicide and links to mental illness.
Mental Health Foundation
PO Box 10051
Tel: (09) 630-8573
Fax: (09) 630-7190
Email: resource@mental health.org.nz
SPINZ (Suicide Prevention Information Service New Zealand)
Tel: (09) 630-8573
Fax: (09) 630-7190
Youth Suicide Awareness Trust
PO Box 3369
Tel: toll Free 0508 CHOOSE LIFE
New Zealand Schizophrenia Fellowship Inc
PO Box 593
Tel: (03) 366-1909
Wellington Mental Health Consumers Union
P O Box 6228
53 Courtney Place
Tel: (04) 801-7769
Manic Depressive Society Inc
PO Box 25068
Tel: (03) 366-5815
Manic Depression Information Trust
PO Box 37829
Tel: (09) 827-7027
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