A peer-to-peer support group has been established in Levin to help anyone in the community who has been touched by the effects of suicide among whānau, friends or loved ones.

The group is non-judgemental, non-religious and open to all, said co-founder Molly Burke.

It meets at Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō every Wednesday evening at 7pm, offering a safe, comfortable and confidential place to talk, connect, find comfort or just drop in for a cup of tea or coffee.

The group started when Shannon woman Linda Whiti, who lost her son to suicide 12 years ago, posted on Facebook to see if there were any support groups in the area for those who had been affected by this type of grief.

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Burke, who has a counselling and coaching background, said there wasn't, so she contacted Whiti and suggested they start one themselves.

"Losing someone to suicide is a unique loss," Burke said. "There are aspects to it that other people just don't have and we recognise that. It never goes away and it impacts relationships."

Levin's Molly Burke is co-founder of a new group to help support those dealing with suicide grief.
Levin's Molly Burke is co-founder of a new group to help support those dealing with suicide grief.

Burke said she also had experience of suicide in her whānau.

"It's rampant," she said. "Levin has [one of the] highest suicide rate[s] in the country, with young Māori men disproportionately at risk."

Burke said the group's organisers were careful to ensure they could identify when further help might be needed by someone suffering with the grief of suicide.

"If it's more than we can handle we can refer people to other resources for support," she said.

However, the group was not just for those with no existing support, such as that from family or a counsellor. It simply offered the concept of non-judgemental peer-to-peer support.

"We don't care if people just introduce themselves by their first name, or if people only want to listen and receive comfort," Burke said.

"There is no judgement - we can just witness and honour their process."

The weekly meet-ups of the group have also been thought about carefully, the frequency meaning help is never more than just a few days away.

Initial feedback has been wholly positive for the group, with people moving forward in ways they didn't expect through participation, Burke said.

"We are seeing people get traction in their lives that didn't have traction before."

For more information call Molly Burke on 021 897 635 or join the Horowhenua Suicide Grief Group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/416298662494169

Where to get help
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider.
However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.
If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:
DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234
For others, visit: mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/in-crisis/helplines