To mark World Suicide Prevention Day today, Director of the Suicide Prevention Office Carla na Nagara is asking that New Zealanders remember all those who have lost loved ones to suicide, and that each one of us focuses on being part of the solution to this complex issue.
'There are thousands of people bereaved by suicide and today we remember and send our deepest aroha to each one of them," says Carla na Nagara.
"Today is also an opportunity to focus on the fact that suicide is preventable and there are solutions we can all contribute to."
There has been a lot of focus recently on the significant issue of suicide in New Zealand and speculation about increased rates as a result of COVID-19, but Carla na Nagara is encouraging much more focus on the fact that suicide can be prevented and that solutions are available.
"Suicide is complex – and preventing suicide will take a multi-layered approach. These need to be focused at every level, from addressing social issues, to wellbeing approaches at individual and community levels, to crisis supports.
"The starting point is each one of us.
"There absolutely needs to be a range of mental health and support services for people to access – but before people need services, the people around them and communities they live in provide the first line of support to help keep people well.
"Each one of us has a responsibility to play our part to look after ourselves, our family, friends, colleagues, sports team mates and others we are connected to in our communities in a variety of ways.
"We can provide help by reaching out and checking in with those around us – checking to see if people are ok and leaning into conversations about how we and another might be feeling.
"We don’t need to own other people’s problems. But we do need to provide support and empathy, and to know how to connect someone with the help they may need.
"Strong, healthy, connected whânau, families and communities provide the most important protection against the distress that can lead to suicide. Communities have a vital role to play in preventing suicide; there are countless unsung heroes working every day to prevent suicide in our communities, and World Suicide Prevention Day is also an opportunity to thank them for their vital work," says Carla na Nagara.