Our October guest speakers were Jenny Jones and Denise Steers who talked about suicide and mental health. We had a good turn-out with 18 attendees.
At the Gay & Lesbian Helpline we know that we can’t stop suicide. We don’t want callers to suicide, but we’re not going to make judgements against it. We encourage callers to explore other options and we’re here to listen.
We learned from the speakers that there have been just under 50 deaths since January in the Wellington region, with most being 30-55 year-old males. There are a number of NZ prevention initiatives underway, including the John Kirwan depression campaign on www.depression.org.nz .
Jenny and Denise gave us some good tips, including:
- don’t shy away from asking direct questions such as ‘have you thought about killing yourself’. Research has shown that you won’t seed the idea by raising it
- social networking can make people vulnerable so ask if callers have their own site on the web
- find out if the caller has any ‘support people’
- ask what music callers listen to – music does influence people’s moods
- if a caller has been to the doctor because they’re depressed, ask about their prescribed medications – they can make them feel worse in the short term
- it may be useful to reassure the caller that a lot of us have felt like that, but we are still here.
We invited WGWG associates to the October training session. In future we plan to extend invitations to the wider queer community – especially for the more interesting and widely relevant topics.