14 Sep 2012

Rural men the focus of suicide prevention forum

10:30 am on 14 September 2012

A public forum on preventing suicide is being held in Taranaki with a focus on rural men who are more likely to be at risk.

There were 51 suicides last year in Taranaki and Palmerston North which is covered in the Taranaki coroner's area.

Figures from recent years show about 25 farmers take their own lives in a year.

Federated Farmers representative Derek Gibson says farmers are under a lot of pressure and don't like to talk about their feelings.

Fi Szpetnar-Perez, who is organising the forum, says suicide prevention is about mental well-being.

She says often it is knowing the signs of risk and being able to provide support for someone that can make all the difference.

A speaker at a public meeting, Kerry Babbage, plans to set up a a 24-hour helpline for men called Blokesline.

He has already set up Mates Trust New Zealand which provides group support where men can talk to other men about their problems, and believes it has been effective.

Mr Babbage, who will be speaking at the meeting, says more funding is needed for his and other on-the-ground suicide prevention schemes.