New Plymouth ‘Survivor guilt’ a common corollary of suicide

New Plymouth co-organiser of World Suicide Prevention Day Kaysha Penniall says she too has battled suicidal thoughts.

“I’ve had eight friends and one family member that have committed suicide. I felt sad they didn’t feel that they could ask for help,” said Ms Penniall who is behind an event planned for the Huatoki Plaza on Monday.

“I was crying and felt like what’s the point of going on? They did it so what’s to stop me from doing it?”

Ms Penniall said people often suffered a form of “survivor guilt” when people near them took their own lives and asked themselves “what could I have done or why did they do that?”

The registered nurse who works for Harmony House said she was able to step back from the brink with the help of friends and her GP who explained that it was normal to have such feelings.

“The thing is when people commit suicide it often causes their family or friends to feel suicidal to. It’s a huge issue, and it has a ripple effect.”

The Huatoki Plaza event will include music and sausage sizzle, but also information stalls and expert presentations.  This will be followed on Friday, September 14 by a forum at the council chamber.

Ms Penniall said she hoped to encourage people to ask questions about suicide. “We’re hoping to support and inform people that have lost somebody or know of someone who is struggling.”

One of the main aims was to give the public an idea about the warning signs.

Ms Penniall said when people at risk of suicide started to say they were feeling better that was often when they were most at risk.

 “When they’ve made the decision, they often feel a lot of relief and they seem a lot happier,” she said. “If I wasn’t convinced or relaxed about the person then I would still ring the crisis team, ambulance or police.”

Ms Penniall recommended the websites QPR (Question Persuade Referral) for people who thought they knew someone who was suicidal, and Bereaved by Suicide for those struggling with the loss of a loved one.

She said it was important people left behind after a suicide got counselling, went to a GP and didn’t blame themselves.

“When someone’s suicidal, they’re not thinking of anybody else. They’re unwell and they aren’t thinking straight.  I don’t believe people do it to get back at anyone, often people don’t want to die. They just want the pain to stop.”

Ms Penniall said the grieving process was different because there was no closure but that it did get easier.

“It’s different for everyone but as the years go by you think of them more fondly, instead of (feeling) the sharp edge of grief.”

Source: Taranaki Daily News

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