The current “harden up, stay staunch and let’s not talk about it” attitude towards anyone with a mental illness or who is having thoughts of suicide is a major part of the problem. We also believe that without positive attitudinal societal change that the 547 New Zealanders who completed suicide in 2012 will be joined by a similar number this year. These figures can no longer be ignored or swept under the carpet by those who champion the ‘stay silent on suicide’ mantra currently in effect in Aotearoa.
The fact that 3 families lose someone to suicide every 2 days in a country described by many as ‘gods own’ proves how ineffective this strategy has become. Our response to this insidious silent epidemic comes from the real experts on suicide. These are the people who have lost someone to suicide or who have attempted suicide themselves and they are all saying the same thing
Most of us know from personal experience that the worst part about being depressed (and in some cases having thoughts of suicide) is the absolute loneliness and helplessness of it all. We also know through our experience with The Nutters Club that sharing life stories helps to counteract these negative emotions of fear, loneliness, shame, isolation and abandonment by providing hope. Our patron Sir John Kirwan is a man who knows all about the power of hope. In his 2010 book “All Blacks Don’t Cry” he wrote
‘At my worst moments, I lost all sense of hope for the future. As I began to slowly get better, I began to be able to say to myself, ‘This will pass, you’ll get through this. Hang on to hope.’
The Key to Life Charitable Trust believes it is time to stop throwing negatives at the problem of suicide and to start throwing positives at the solution! We need to start talking about suicide. Not about “how” (which can sometimes lead to suicide contagion), but definitely about “why” people become so desperate that they feel they can’t go on. When you ask questions, you find answers.
Empowering communities through trust and education encourages them to become an integral part of the solution and will drive inter-generational attitudinal social change needed to reverse the incidence of suicide and depression.
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