The conversation about suicide prevention continues in Marton next month with help from leading researcher Annette Beautrais.

Project Marton co-ordinator Cath Ash said after listening to Dr Beautrais at a suicide prevention workshop in the region earlier this year she knew getting her to speak in Marton was imperative.

"We have had suicide problems over the years, there was one just a couple of weeks ago.

"I know that these two workshops will really help our community because Dr Beautrais has worked and researched for more than 20 years in this area.


"She is brilliant to listen to."

Ms Ash said Project Marton was "thrilled" to partner with Te Kotuku Hauora to host Dr Beautrais for the two workshops. The first is on June 8 at James Cook School, at 5.30pm, and the second on June 9 at Shelton Pavilion, Centennial Park at 9.30am.

The workshops were open to everyone, "helping to support the community to identify and support people that may be at risk of suicide", Ms Ash said.

"And they are run in such a way that they really are beneficial for people to support their friends, family, colleagues and clients.

"This is a conversation that needs to be had openly in our community."

Dr Beautrais is a professor at the University of Canterbury and suicide prevention co-ordinator at the South Canterbury DHB.

Dr Beautrais has worked in suicide research and prevention since 1991. Her work currently focuses on translating suicide research to effective intervention and prevention programmes.

The workshops are designed to give participants the practical knowledge, skills and confidence to recognise those at risk of suicide and refer them to appropriate resources, Ms Ash said.

"It is based on the well-evaluated, widely used and internationally recognised safeTALK programme. and all participants receive a safeTALK training certificate," she said.

Dr Beautrais however has felt let down by support for her work; she left New Zealand "in despair" over lack of government funding seven years ago.

In The Press, Otago University professor David Fergusson said the Canterbury Suicide Project, established in 1991, had folded when Dr Beautrais returned to work at Yale in the United States.

"The whole area of suicide research in Canterbury ceased largely because her work was not supported or recognised by the Ministry of Health," he said. "She became extremely disillusioned."

However she returned to New Zealand and from her home in Timaru, Dr Beautrais told the the Chronicle that rural areas in New Zealand have suicide rates which are several times higher than urban areas.

She said small towns like Marton may be vulnerable to suicide for many reasons including "changing farming practices, rural depopulation and changes in services".

"At the local level of small towns, suicide prevention is about increasing the capacity of the community to identify those who are stressed, depressed or having problems, and mobilising community concerns to provide support, engagement and social connections," she said.

According to Dr Beautrais, men account for 75 per cent of all New Zealand suicides every year, and rural men are more likely to die from suicide than a workplace accident, she said.

However, the signs of suicide can be picked up, she said.

"They can be recognised."

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youth services: (06) 3555 906 (Palmerston North and Levin)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.