Solution-focussed suicide prevention

New Zealand has a high rate of suicides. UK-based psychologist John Henden recently visited New Zealand to teach strategies for working with people at risk of killing themselves. He also wrote this article. In Hastings this August, he taught a One Day Intensive Workshop, with 120 people attending.

Clare Woodham (Phuntsok Choeling Hawkes Bay Buddhist Centre, Napier) reports:

John Henden has 30 years’ experience in the field, in different intervention centres with different degrees of success. He and others in this area of work have identified basic ways to rapidly build rapport, engage empathically with people, then use specific question techniques to help turn their minds away from considering suicide and into considering other ways of ending their suffering.

Many people who consider suicide don’t want to die, they want the suffering to stop and don’t know how. This solution-focussed approach is highly effective, and the techniques can be used by laypeople as well as health professionals and paramedics.

At the workshop, people built up a sense of connectedness with others around them, working through exercises and building rapport and connection with each other. We were encouraged to continue practising with it until familiar with the tools.

Two of us from Phuntsok Choeling attended the day and I have since felt more confident to connect with groups in the community working with suicide and doing something to get the conversations going with those at risk of suicide and support their friends and families. It is important to create avenues for compassionately sharing the pain and sharing solutions.

John Henden’s books are available online and are written in very down-to-earth language and style making for easy reference and building confidence in the user. A must for anyone wanting to increase their skill base and  their confidence in “starting the conversation” with anyone you think is at risk of suicide – friend , family member, client or workmate.

Contact Clare Woodham (Phuntsok Choeling, Hawkes Bay Buddhist Centre, Napier) for more information about activities related to suicide prevention in Hawkes Bay.

A related event in Wellington: on Saturday 11th November, friends and families affected by suicide will gather at Odlins Plaza on the waterfront near Te Papa, from 10am – 3pm.  Contact Warren Brown from STAROS on 027 2864071 and read this article for more information.