Māori males in rural communities at "high-risk"

By Raniera Harrison

"How do we increase our capacity to do talk about suicide in our whānau in a Māori paradigm?"  That's the challenge from one of Northland's leading Māori mental health professionals.

"It is young. It is Māori and its is our men, our Māori boys, who belong to Māori fathers, Māori mothers, karani, and karanipapa, so its a whole whānau issue," says Mariameno Kapa-Kingi of Ngāti Hine Health Trust.

Māori suicide statistics are at the highest level since records began.

Figures released by the Chief Coroner in August show there were 142 deaths from July 2017 to June this year.

"The irony is we talk to dead people every day.  We cross that veil all the time- we stand to greet our dead at every event we attend.  We cross the veil every day.  We talk like that all the time," says Kapa-Kingi.

The State of the Rural Nation survey shows 56% of those surveyed say they're uncomfortable talking about their mental wellness and would rather ''deal with it'' themselves.

"As Māori, we're a collective, we function as a collective and to feel like you're on your own is not a nice place to be," says Agnes Daniels of the Northland Regional District Health Board, who has been working in the Māori mental health space for the last 13 years.

Now, Daniels is urging Māori whānau to support those in need.

"When it comes to Māori and sudden passing, behind every one is a whānau, and behind every whānau is a hapu and an iwi.  It doesn't just affect the individual"

"The question is how do we increase our capacity to do this as whānau in a whānau Māori paradigm?" asks Kapa-Kingi.

Stigma attached to depression also prevented many from talking or seeking help.

Where to get help

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Lifelink/Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (available 24/7)
Youth services: (06) 3555 906
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)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.