25 Aug 2018

Māori suicide prevention groups want more support

10:44 am on 25 August 2018

A Māori suicide prevention group says children and young people are calling for help to support friends and whānau in need.

A teenage Māori boy looking unhappy

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The latest suicide statistics show 668 people died of suicide in the year to June 2018.

Māori were disproportionately represented in the figures, with 142 deaths, the highest since the provisional statistics began a decade ago.

Kimiora Trust chief executive Kiritahi Firmin said there was huge demand for the services her organisation offered.

"Our kids in our schools and on our marae and in our communities are calling for a prevention but also intervention models that show them how ... they save a friend who they feel is suicidal."

Kiritahi Fermin said her programme was not well supported by Government.

"What is currently happening is you've got to jump through all these loop holes to become a preferred provider, and most times the writers of the authors or the co-designers of the applications ... are the wrong people.

"They don't see the document, so to speak, with a Māori lens, and I really believe those things need to change."

Ms Fermin said young Māori needed to be able to re-engage with their heritage to help them find their identity.

The chief executive of Te Rau Matatini, the National Centre for Māori Health, agreed.

There needed to be more support for grass roots organisations to work with at-risk Māori in a way that fit their culture, Maria Baker said.

She said it was obvious organisations weren't getting into homes, or communities properly, as people were still taking their lives.

"Over the years, even though there has been a good 10 to 20 year generation of Māori health reform and different types of structures and systemic transformation and models, the dilemma is that when Government changes, the changes impact on some of the innovative models outside of Western mainstream construct.

"One might say now, in 2018, we have so many more Māori led providers and health programmes but the dilemma is that the majority of the time the funding is limited, or changed as the decision making doesn't usually sit within Māori constructs, so there's a challenge there."

Both woman said they weren't surprised by the high rate of young Māori taking their lives.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.