Call for more Māori involvement in suicide support services

By Heta Gardiner

Māori who have lost loved ones to suicide are calling for more Māori involvement in support services to address the issue. The call was made at a meeting in Wellington today.

One mother wishes she had more support following the sudden death of her daughter. 

Aroha McKenzie says, “The experience I had was not appropriate for me at the time, and I wish it had been done differently. “

McKenzie was a speaker at the meeting of Māori agencies and support services. Her daughter took her own life in February last year.

She says, “It has become very apparent for me that there isn't enough Māori victim support volunteers. For me, that is very important because Māori understand Māori. When a tragedy like this happens, I really would have appreciated another Māori coming in, because they would have understood how to treat me, or to treat my whānau.”

Zack Makoare, a father who has also felt the pain of suicide, agrees.

He says, “Too often we are clinically based, we get models from overseas, from America. They don't suit us, they don't work for us, and yet we have knowledge in our own communities and our own whanau, to use prevention in a better way.”

Victim Support arranged the hui in the hope of connecting and learning to understand Māori better.