The Executive Director of the New Zealand Maori Council, Matthew Tukaki, who has also been a long-standing advocate of suicide prevention, has said this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day (10/9/2020) is an opportunity for the nation to push back against stigma for those who are doing it "tough" and focus on pushing a message of hope and "its ok to korero". Tukaki has said suicide is not just a Maori issue, nor gender, nor age alone "this affects us all, every New Zealander from every walk of life". Tukaki also opened about his concerns that people do not fully appreciate it is not all about mental health:
"The truth is that very often we are dealing with those who face the daily struggle of life from relationship breakdowns to loss of employment right through to keep up with the cost of living, lack of access to opportunities and so on. In fact, when you have a look at the number of deaths in Aotearoa by suicide, we see challenges that are preventable. If you have lost a job or facing financial challenges - there are people and organisations that can help with those things just as there are whanau and people who can help with relationships breakdowns or the loss of a small business or even fights between friends". Tukaki said.
"Then there is the state of our mental health system itself and building better more agile services to meet the growing demand. And right now, we are seeing the convergence of both the daily struggle of life and those suffering from pre-diagnosable mental health conditions from depression and anxiety right through to bipolar as result of the impacts of COVID19." Tukaki said
"This World Suicide Prevention Day gives us the change to not just korero about suicide, mental health and more - it’s our chance to provide free resources and support to build up our communities across the nation and provide them with the tools to be able to not only ask the question "are you ok" but be ready when the answer might be "no" - that’s why the New Zealand Maori Council will be running a large national awareness campaign online, provide easy to follow and use resources and access to thought leaders on a range of issues such as "ZERO suicide in the health and hospital system", Maori solutions, an understanding of what is happening with the rise number from our Asian community and the plight of middle aged white males."
"We need to be on top of this 365 days a year not just one and we must address both sides of the coin - the daily struggle of life and mental health - but in these times of COVID we also must do more to build our resilience and coping strategies for our young and middle aged whanau alike". Tukaki said
What is being rolled out in the coming days?
Free live online webinar with Sue Murray, former CEO of Suicide Prevention Australia, and leader of the ZERO suicide approach in health and hospital systems (09/09/2020)
Free live online webinar with Daniel Kim to korero about the rising rate of suicide amongst the Asian community (10/10/2020)
A national online poster campaign creating awareness around suicide prevention
A new release of "How to have a korero" - free tips, tools and resources for communities
An updated release of "How to have a korero" APP - free tips, tools and resources for communities