Suicide Organisations and Support

The Mental Health Foundation
had its origins in a Trust established in 1974 and since then has supported many organisations involved in mental health activity.

These include Women's Refuge, Rape Crisis, Alzheimer's support groups and the New Zealand Aids Foundation. The support includes:

  • applied behavioural and social research with a community focus, eg, loneliness, mental health legislation and television violence;
  • conferences and workshops/hui on a wide variety of topics including unemployment, rape, child abuse prevention, mental health services, refugee mental health, prevention of violence, community consumer-centred housing, Maori mental health;
  • research and consultancy programmes covering Maori and Pacific Island mental health, depression awareness, suicide prevention, television violence, youth at risk, the abuse and neglect of older people, and numerous other aspects of mental health;
  • hosting the 1989 World Congress for Mental Health with over 1,000 participants and more than 400 papers and workshops.

Other key activities have included the establishment of a self-help clearing house, the Refugees as Survivors Centres (RAS), the Compulsive Gambling Society and since 1993, co-ordination of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Mental Health Foundation- a clearing house for information and networking. For a series of booklets on specific conditions such as depression, post natal depression, depression in childhood and adolescence, and others.

Project Hope - is dedicated to making all people healthier and happier as the best defense there is against depression and all forms of preventable deaths. Has free downloads of documents designed to teach Life Skills that will lead people to have happier and healthier lives.

Safer Streets Trust - has developed and produced "The Journey to Wellbeing" ("Hikoi ki te Hauora") based on the world recognised Ron Phillips work. Ron Phillips has achieved phenomenal success at Campbell Lodge and SST has made this program available at no cost to all year 9 classes. 

- Suicide Prevention Information NZ
SPINZ is a national suicide prevention information service which aims to assist communities and services to prevent suicide by providing them with best practice information

Yellow Ribbon - based on the USA model, but lacking the support services offered by its "USA sponsor".  Yellow Ribbon closed down in March 2005 due, it claimed, to lack of support from the Government.

Some Web Sites and Resources
RNZCGP - detection & management of young people at risk of suicide

Youth Affairs
appointed a National Coordinator Youth Suicide Prevention on 21st May 2001

Ministry of Health The New Zealand Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy

Ministry of Youth Affairs Guidelines for Primary Care Providers

The Young New Zealanders Foundation
The Foundation helps young New Zealanders develop positive life skills to assist them through the trials and challenges of their journey through life.

Their website carries an extensive list of links to helping agencies throughout New Zealand.

A unique feature of the Foundation's approach is 'Gemstones', otherwise known as 'Therapeutic Storytelling Intervention', or 'TSI'. In previous generations young people usually grew up in extended families, with adult role models on hand to offer guidance and personal example. The surrounding community had shared values, so it was relatively easy for a young person to work out the question 'How should I live?'

That sort of support network can be rare today and a young person growing up in difficult circumstances is vulnerable to the influences and culture of modern media. Confusion and loneliness can lead to despair for the future and thoughts of suicide.

Gemstones is mainly designed for Year 7-8 students (Forms 1-2) and introduces TSI. The aim is to assist them understand who they are and where they have come from. Then how they are developing and the challenges they will face along the way.

Gemstones acknowledges differences, builds strengths and develops skills of self-discernment and positive choices, avoiding unnecessary focus on problems. A central focus of TSI is that life, as a journey, presents a young person with many challenges and opportunities. Developing a belief in themselves leads to realizing that they have much to offer their world.

Therapeutic Storytelling Intervention is a life skills and life education process developed by an American psychologist Ron Phillips, living in Auckland, New Zealand.Ron and his wife Mary, founded Creative Alternatives in Northern California, as an alternative to institutional care for emotionally distressed young people. Ron began telling stories and compiled the first material that later became TSI.

The stories evolved through Ron discovering that these troubled teenagers were difficult to reach using more traditional forms of therapy. The stories touched and affected the teenagers in a surprising way. Not only were transformations apparent, but the youngsters were eager to listen t the next 'installment' of the story.

Although telling the story engaged them initially, the use of the questioning process that developed alongside the stories, invited them to identify with the main character. This really stimulated and provoked change. It was this relationship between storytelling, the questioning process – and the interaction between the storyteller and the group that became the initial development of TSI.

The stories show the influence of C.S.Lewis and J.R.Tolkien, as 'Gem of the First Water', as the adolescent boy begins his journey through the 'Land of Confusion' on his way to the 'Triple Peaks'of adulthood.

'Gem of the First Water' describes the transition from childhood, through adolescence to adulthood. The stories use the image of fairytales to illustrate how the boy can, through the choices and decisions he makes, affect the outcomes of his travels through this metaphoric land.

In New Zealand, TSI has proved effective in many situations. Users include: parents, teachers, police education officers, counselors, social workers, psychologists, youth group leaders and mental health workers. It is used where young persons consistently behave badly, causing disruption in the classroom, community and families.

Clinical trials using TSI were held in 1999 at Campbell Lodge, South Auckland Health's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Outpatient Unit at Middlemore Hospital.The patients were very emotionally disturbed young people with severe behavioural problems and at risk of self harm. The trials allegedly showed outcomes almost twice as favourable as other known international adolescent programmes.

More information about TSI can be found here: The Young New Zealanders Foundation