Working together to prevent suicide

Thursday September 10, 2020 Written by Published in Local
Mereana Taikoko and her son Thomas Ngauru from the Te Kainga Mental Health and Wellbeing Centre promote suicide prevention awareness at a past event. 20090913 Mereana Taikoko and her son Thomas Ngauru from the Te Kainga Mental Health and Wellbeing Centre promote suicide prevention awareness at a past event. 20090913

Suicide rates among males in Rarotonga per capita were twice that of New Zealand and three times more than Australia, says a local mental health group.

But Mereana Taikoko, the chief executive officer of Te Kainga o Pa Taunga (Mental Health and Wellbeing Centre), says the cases have dropped in the recent years due to their ongoing awareness on the issue.

Last year there were no cases of suicide reported in Cook Islands, she said.

“This is good news,” says Taikoko.

Taikoko believes suicide prevention awareness campaigns have helped decrease the cases and attempts in the country.

Between 2005 and 2018 there were 35 cases - 28 were males and seven were females. Twenty-four cases were from Rarotonga, five from Aitutaki, four from Mangaia and one each in Atiu and Mauke.

Taikoko said Te Kainga creates more awareness on suicide prevention from November to January because “this is the pressure or stress period, where there are a lot of demands or expectations on a particular person whether it be for an event or a family commitment”.

Some find it difficult to deal with problems they are facing during this time of the year with no one reaching out to them, she said.

“When we look at this statistic, we need to put the pressure off for these three months, the festive season, the stress of getting back to work and school.”

Taikoko said Covid-19 may have caused border closures and lockdowns but it has also brought families together.

“Parents were not used to caring for their children, but Covid got them together. Covid brought some good change,” she said.

Te Kainga will today mark World Suicide Prevention Day by holding radio talkback shows on suicide prevention and will also have an information booth at the Bank of the South Pacific. The theme for the event is “Working together to prevent suicide”.

If you need support for yourself or someone else you can contact Te Kainga on 20162 or 50633.

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