More and more kiws are being encouraged to talk openly about suicide. This comes after years of being told not to by officials because they believed it would lead to more deaths.
But as policymakers come to terms with the highest number of suicides on record at 579, small flaxroots Māori programmes are going about their business trying to do their bit to help.
Zack Makaore’s 15-year old son Kelly died seventeen years ago. Seven years later, Zack started a suicide prevention programme, Te Taitimu Trust to help other children.
“In memory of our son there’s been some really neat things happen not only for the families but for our marae. A lot of stuff is done at hapū level around building connected young people, confident young people and more than that a resilient whānau around the suicide, whakamomori stuff.”
At the Trust’s annual weekend event held at Te Aute College where Kelly was a student, teenagers are encouraged to participate.
Guest speaker Mauriora Tawaroa-Takiari and her family travel the country teaching young people how to recognise the risk signs for suicide and how to help.
She says, “Starting the conversation is one of the biggest things that people don’t know how to do. They think you’ve got to take all these steps and say all these right things when really all you have to do is be yourself.”
In this year’s budget, $8 million dollars was set aside for Māori suicide prevention programmes spread over four years.
Makaore says simple things like taking children diving at sea helps builds confidence and connects them to the environment.
“We’re talking about people’s emotions, their wairua,” he says. “When you tear back everything, you’ve got to get inside their wairua aye, their emotions. I don’t think policy and all that sort of stuff are going to help us. There’s too much of it. There’s far too much research. You know I’d rather spend that sort of money on things that really matter in people’s lives. How do we teach our kids to deal with their emotions?”
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