Thursday, February 07, 2013

Speaking Out Against Youth Suicide Via The Haka

CASPER, the suicide prevention charity based in New Zealand, have a lot to say on the way the government is handling the appalling rate of suicides that are spiraling out of control here. They do so by publishing research, presentations, blogging and holding meetings with MP's, medicine regulators and also spreading the word through various media resources and corporate businesses across New Zealand.

A couple of weeks ago CASPER CEO, Maria Bradshaw, was approached by Anaru Barton, who informed her that he was organizing a Haka at the annual Waitangi Day celebrations at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds as part of a project for the Landmark Forum. He had, through various media resources and by word of mouth, heard about CASPER'S alternative approach to suicide. Anaru became more aware after talking with Bradshaw and reading the research papers on the CASPER website.

So, the Haka was dubbed the "CASPER HAKA 4 LIFE".

It was hoped that a new record for performing the Haka could be set. Feedback suggests that although a new record was not set the whole event created a valuable awareness amongst New Zealanders, particularly the Maori population.

The Treaty grounds wasn't the only place in New Zealand doing their bit for suicide prevention. Many teams of CASPER followers organized their own Haka's throughout the country, One such person was Teresa Back  [see fig 1] - Gisborne also got in on the act [fig 2]

Fig 1

Fig 2

TVOne, NZ's top network channel covered the event as well as numerous radio stations and other news resources. TVOne heard that there was a staggering 46% increase in youth suicide last year, worse still a 76%  increase in suicide for Maori youth.

"The government would have us believe that Maori youth are more crazy than Pākehā youth" [New Zealanders who are of European descent], Bradshaw told journalists. She added, "We saw the Christchurch earthquake where suicide dropped to almost zero... not because everyone was magically cured of mental illness or a brain disorder but because people connected and cared about each other."

Maria and I spent two days in Paihia, just 5 minutes away from the Treaty grounds. [Fig 3] It's a place of beauty surrounded by the Bay of Islands. I'm used to the telephone ringing at home in Auckland but, before and after the Haka took place Maria's phone was white hot with TV, radio and newspapers wishing to speak with Maria about youth suicide. A friend of both Maria and myself, TeRata Hikairo, is fluent in Maori and, on behalf of Casper, spoke to Maori radio and journalists.

Fig 3

The message is out and it was a very powerful and moving one.

Here's footage of the Haka filmed by Maria herself.

On a personal level, you had to be there to appreciate the intensity and passion of the Haka. What followed was a further two Haka's from different sections of the crowd, huge applause followed from onlookers, many of whom were tourists from different countries who were completely oblivious to the suicide problem in New Zealand, moreover completely unaware that the NZ government just don't know how to handle a problem that, they claim, is "complex".

On the contrary, this problem is not complex at all, it only becomes complicated by apparent suicide experts who claim that more mental health services are needed. It's really akin to vultures waiting for the figures to increase so they can get yet more funding to filter youth through a system whereby these "crazy kids" with "chemical imbalances" and "brain disorders" are treated with medication that doubles the risk of suicide.

This is not a conspiracy, this is fact.

There are many celebrities here in NZ that knowingly or unknowingly promote the mental health approach and the use of antidepressants. It's time for all of these people and the front groups [astroturfing] to refuse any sort of funding from anyone associated with the mental health approach.

There are plenty of alternatives to mind-altering drugs, something I'll be covering over the next month or so on this blog. Casper's Maria Bradshaw has already covered these approaches and I'll be referencing her work and the work of others in a series of articles soon.

In a nutshell, the public, not only in New Zealand, have been duped by one of the biggest marketing scams in the history of medicine. Any relief from your 'chemical imbalance' has probably been a placebo effect, one only has to look at the current case in the United States against pharmaceutical giants, Pfizer, to see how easy it's been to dupe the public into believing that antidepressants are actually effective against depression [back story]

I urge the people of New Zealand, be they Maori or Pākehā to read the research and then start asking questions of their government and their appalling handling of this problem.

The CASPER Haka 4 Life was a challenge to the NZ government. It defies their approach of not being able to openly talk about suicide, it challenges the NZ government for medicalising suicide and for not being brave enough to admit that what they are doing about this problem is just not working!

Plans are already underway for another HAKA FOR LIFE. More on that soon.

Here's an interview Maria did for the superb Waatea Radio the morning after the Haka.

There a whole heap of information regarding suicide prevention the the CASPER website. I've chosen just two pieces [3 documents] for your perusal.

CASPER's Submission on the Coroners Court
The Minister for Courts is undertaking a 'targeted review' of the Coroners Court and Coroners Act 2006. CASPER is advocating for a much broader review given neither the Court nor the Act are achieving their purposes. We attached our submission on media reporting of suicide rather than repeat ourselves. Both docs below.

Coroners Review.pdf
Submission on Media Reporting.pdf

CASPER Suicide Prevention Strategy

Final CASPER Suicide Prevention Strategy.pdf

This blog supports CASPER. If you are sick and tired of the NZ government approach to suicide prevention and you wish to see change then please pledge a donation, however small.