Southland Māori unite to fight suicide

Coming together to fight suicide are, front from left, Dawn Wybrow, Hani Light and Leoma Tawaroa and back from left, ...
John Hawkins

Coming together to fight suicide are, front from left, Dawn Wybrow, Hani Light and Leoma Tawaroa and back from left, Cedric Blair, Daniel Tawaroa and Sheryl Henare.

Southland's Māori community is calling on its people to rise up and work together to help prevent suicide.

More than 600 Kiwis took their own lives in the 2016-17 year, up from 579 the previous year, with Māori over-represented in the suicide statistics.

The provisional coroner's results reveal there were 52 suicides in the Southern DHB region in the 12 months to mid 2017 - up from 43 the previous year.

In a bid to curb the worrying trend, eight groups in Southland will, for the second year running, sign an accord on Sunday to connect together and address the issue of suicide in the region.

Invercargill's Nga Hau e Wha Marae chairman Daniel Tawaroa said whānau in the south were wanting to do something to help prevent suicide.

The whole community could help, he said.

"We are asking all people, all communities to rise up and speak up. Shout out when you aren't feeling so hot, shout out when you can give someone a hand."

Suicide statistics were horrendous but told just one part of the story, Tawaroa said.

 "Sometimes you can get bogged down in despair but when you look to each other you can identify [ways forward] and address issues you are experiencing."

The eight groups to sign the accord would meet at the Invercargill Workingmen's Club on Sunday afternoon for kapa haka and music.

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It will be the first of several art and sporting events the groups will have in the next year, with the aim to support each other and support those needing help.

The groups would also be offered suicide prevention training during the year.

Nga Kete Māori public health spokeswoman Leoma Tawaroa said the groups were brave to stand up and come together to fight suicide.

"We are stronger together ... we encourage the culture of looking after each other and keeping each other safe."

The signing of the accord was based on the goodwill of the groups connecting with each other and having the common goal of preventing suicide.

Cedric Blair, representing Invercargill-based Iwi group Nga Puhi nui tonu, said they were part of the accord to support the cause and reunite their iwi.

Dawn Wybrow, of Te Roopu Kaumatua o Murihiku, said more people were taking their own lives and her group was in the accord to help.

"We believe in kaupapa and supporting the whānau to connect."

Hani Light, of Waikato Whanau ki roto o Murihiku, said a great effort was needed to prevent suicide in the region.

"When you come together and be connected you are a vehicle for people to come to." 

WHERE TO GET HELP

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 - Provides 24 hour telephone counselling

Youthline: 0800 376 633 or free text 234 - Provides 24 hour telephone and text counselling services for young people

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 - Provides 24 hour telephone counselling.

Tautoko: 0508 828 865 - provides support, information and resources to people at risk of suicide, and their family, whānau and friends.

Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (noon to 11pm)

Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm - 6pm weekdays)

The Lowdown: thelowdown.co.nz  - website for young people ages 12 to 19.

National Depression Initiative - depression.org.nz (for adults), 0800 111 757 - 24 hour service

If it is an emergency or you feel you or someone you know is at risk, please call 111

For information about suicide prevention, see www.mentalhealth.org.nz/suicideprevention.

 - The Southland Times

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