27 Jul 2011

Hard approach won't work for suicide - community worker

10:13 pm on 27 July 2011

A Bay of Plenty volunteer community worker says a hard-line approach to preventing suicide won't work for Maori.

Mate Tangitu was responding to a suggestion by Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell that tangi for people who take their own lives should only last a day.

He also says they should be buried at the front of the cemetery, so their actions can be condemned.

Mr Flavell says his comments were never meant to hurt people, but it's essential a tough stance is taken.

But Ms Tangitu disagrees, saying many young Maori who take their own lives do so out of grief.

She says this is clearly evident when young people especially become very emotional and get suicidal themselves after grieving for someone who took their own life.

Ms Tangitu says the adults need to embrace them, and give them more support.

She says the way to reduce the risk is by whanau being open and honest.

The head of a mental health service in Rotorua says burying people who commit suicide at the front or outside a cemetery would bring shame to their families.

Rotorua' Mana Mental Health Services manager Gavin Pike says the dead shouldn't be separated from their family in an urupa.

He says the whanau of the person who committed suicide would become stigmatised, causing further grief to family members.

Mr Pike says Mr Flavell's suggestions are inappropriate and there are other ways to deal with the issue rather than segregating whanau.