Strong message

JULIAN RAETHEL
Last updated 05:00 16/11/2012
Tyrone

FOR TYRONE: Michael Zarins is hoping the Jedi Cup tag tournament will raise awareness about youth suicide. His younger brother, Tyrone, took his life three years ago.

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Get help, you're not alone.

That's the message from the Filiva'a family in tackling depression and suicide.

The Avondale family are dealing with the tragic consequences of youth suicide firsthand since their youngest brother, Tyrone, took his life three years ago at the age of 17.

Now they are hoping to get the message out that it is okay to look for answers by holding the Jedi Tag Tournament Tyrone Memorial Cup for teen suicide awareness and prevention on Sunday at Fowlds Park.

"Tyrone was given the nickname ‘Jedi' by his friends," says sister Ariana Filiva'a.

"He was very clever and a talented sportsman."

Tyrone, the youngest of six children, went to Avondale College and was part of the New Zealand Warriors junior development squad while also being sought after by other NRL clubs.

Two NRL scouts were actually on their way over as the tragedy hit, Ms Filiva'a says.

"We had to let them know to cancel their trip."

The family have now pulled together to organise the tournament which will feature 16 teams from across Auckland.

New Zealand's youth suicide rate remains the highest among the OECD countries for teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19.

In 2010, the rate for youth suicide was 17.7 deaths each 100,000 people aged between 15 and 24.

"There were some warning signs with Tyrone but we thought that it was just normal teenage behaviour with drinking and things like that.

"We've tried to put ourselves in his shoes and we want to make it cool to ask for help," Ms Filiva'a says.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Judi Clements says that education and opening up dialogue is important when dealing with depression and suicide.

"We need to get more information out about what to do if you're concerned about somebody who may be in trouble. Yes it is a sensitive subject but it's better to say something, offer help and keep each other safe," she says.

The tournament will be joined by health professionals including Youthline and The Lowdown.

Jerseys have been donated as prizes by Sonny Bill Williams, sevens player DJ Forbes and the Silver Ferns.

The tournament will feature local celebrities including Mike King.

Tyrone's older brother Michael Zarins is grateful for the support.

"We've got a family touch team so we decided it would be a great idea to put on a memorial tag game for Tyrone as he was very talented in the game," Mr Zarins says. "For the first time someone's reaching out when a lot of people don't want to talk about it in the media. We feel that youth suicide shouldn't be taboo in this country."

It has been a tough road for the family but they are determined to help others along the way.

"It's been three years but I still choke up about what happened to my brother," Mr Zarins says.

"If we can put this across to the younger generation on Sunday then why not do it?"

The day runs from 7am till 7pm.

Go to facebook.com/jedi4tag for more information.

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- Western Leader

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