There is always a gaping hole left after a loved one has died from suicide. Support group STAROS tries to fill that void. Formed in March 2012, STAROS became a trust earlier this year. Founders Warren Brown and Sandra Pell say the group is still primarily about support, prevention and awareness. "I don't think there's enough support - for all the people left behind there's hardly any." To coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day, STAROS is holding its biannual vigil for those affected by suicide - this year named Supporting the Aftermath - on Saturday, September 9, outside the National Aquarium of New Zealand at 11am.
"People talk 'cry wolf', but every person has their bit of stuff going on. It's about how we as a society treat each other."The following day the Hastings and Napier youth councils are running Colours Fun Run, with proceeds going towards programmes supporting the prevention of youth suicide. Warren says STAROS is run like a peer group - open and "quite informal". "There are different models. Ours is a place for people to talk in a safe, non-judgmental environment. He believes every suicide is a tragic story. "We think of all those people - the families, teachers - the ripple effect is huge. I think people forget about that, the far-reaching effect when anybody dies." Although Warren has no formal qualifications, he says his experience is what matters. He believes there are three things needed to run the group - empathy, the ability to care for somebody else and the ability to listen actively. "Whatever happens next can depend on that impression. You have to want to do this. It changes your perspective, the way you look at life." Warren recently attended a Zero Suicide Forum, with guest speakers from US, Ireland and Australia who have worked in this programme, a global movement that has joined together suicide prevention experts from across the globe to research, evaluate and share prevention successes. "They have programmes in place that are working. It's about the person feeling like there's somebody out there who will listen and take them seriously, be brave enough to speak out." He says it's a massive step to come to the group. "People talk 'cry wolf', but every person has their bit of stuff going on. It's about how we as a society treat each other." Warren and Sandra believe the suicide focus is wrong. "It should be more focused on social issues as opposed to medical. The social aspect is more relevant than the medical model we are under at the moment." STAROS tries to attend as many workshops, talks, meetings and seminars as they can, to be involved in whatever is happening in the community. They have recently attended the John Henden Solution Focused Approach to Suicide workshop, a P workshop, Mandela Day, a library talk and given out many brochures. "It's exposure for us. Even if one person sees it, it's important we do all this stuff." STAROS Supporting the Aftermath, Saturday, September 9, outside the National Aquarium of New Zealand at 11am. For more information phone Warren on 027 286 4071 or Sandra on 027 684 3033.