Stop youth suicide campaigner visits Waikato

Press Release – Waikato DHB

Professor Hatim Omar is a Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Kentucky and chair of the successful ‘stop youth suicide’ campaign. He is visiting New Zealand in November to present a series of lectures and workshops on preventing youth suicide. …Stop youth suicide campaigner visits Waikato

Professor Hatim Omar is a Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Kentucky and chair of the successful ‘stop youth suicide’ campaign. He is visiting New Zealand in November to present a series of lectures and workshops on preventing youth suicide. Professor Omar will discuss his grassroots and multi-agency approach to youth suicide prevention.

Professor Omar is being hosted by Wintec’s Centre for Health and Social Practice, and supported by Population Health, Waikato District Health Board. Professor Omar will deliver lectures and training workshops around the Waikato area. This follows a successful series in 2010. This series will take workshops to a number of new locations. The schedule of workshops is:

• November 10-12 Kawerau
• November 15-16 Te Kuiti
• November 16, and 18 Huntly
• November 17 Hamilton
• November 21-22 Hauraki
• November 23 Waikato Hospital
• November 23-24 Putaruru

Internationally, New Zealand’s suicide rate is high. In 2008, 520 people died as a result of suicide, including 42 lives lost in the Waikato DHB region. The national suicide rate is 11.2 per 100,000 people. More lives are lost each year in New Zealand to suicide than to motor vehicle accidents. Approximately 2,500 people intentionally harm themselves each year.

Youth suicide is of particular concern in New Zealand. Suicide rates for young people are high, with deaths between the ages of 15 and 24 making up 23% of all suicides in the Waikato region. Suicide is the second most common cause of death for young people. Between 2002 and 2006, over a quarter of deaths in the Waikato region for people aged 15-19 were due to suicide.

Populations living in areas of high deprivation have higher suicide rates than areas of lower deprivation, and male suicide rates are significantly higher than female rates. Maori also have higher rates of suicide than other ethnic groups.

Each suicide has a wide and profound impact on friends and family. One suicide may not affect just close family, but also entire communities. However, suicide is often considered a taboo subject, which may lead to a lack of understanding regarding the problem in New Zealand.

Dr. Hatim A. Omar is professor of paediatrics and obstetrics and gynaecology and chief of Adolescent Medicine & Young Parent program at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. He is also a co-founder and executive committee member of the International Society of Holistic Health. He is a member of the executive committee of the section on Adolescent Health of the American Academy of Paediatrics.

Dr Omar has served as an ambassador for the wellbeing of adolescents world wide and is highly regarded for his tireless volunteer work on behalf of adolescents.

The latest mortality statistics that have been released by the Ministry of Health are from 2008. More recent data is not available due to delays in coroners’ reports and the thorough data collation process. These mortality statistics are detailed down to DHB level, but not to smaller regional or urban areas.

Suicide risk needs to be recognised and acted upon.

It is okay to seek help.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing suicidal thoughts you can get support from:

Rural Mental Health and Addictions Service (Health Waikato): 0800 505 050
Lifeline: 0800 543 354

About Waikato District Health Board and Health Waikato

Waikato DHB is responsible for planning, funding and providing quality health and disability support services for the 365,300 people living in the Waikato DHB region. It has an annual turnover of $1.2 billion and employs more than 6000 people.

Health Waikato is the DHB’s main provider of hospital and health services with an annual budget of more than $674 million and 4980 staff. It has six groups across five hospital sites, three primary birthing units, two continuing care facilities and 20 community bases offering a comprehensive range of primary, secondary and tertiary health services.

A wide range of independent providers deliver other Waikato DHB-funded health services – including primary health, pharmacies and community laboratories.

www.waikatodhb.health.nz

ENDS

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