Anna Cardno, left, communications manager for Wairarapa District Health Board, and Rachel Hope, Wairarapa suicide prevention co-ordinator. Photo: Nathan Crombie

By Anna Cardno

There are days when it still doesn’t seem real. That someone so vibrant can suddenly just not be. Not be loud. Not be quiet. Not be funny, or argumentative or stubborn. Just not be anything. Not be here. Suicide is an ugly full stop smack bang in the middle of an unfinished sentence.

Suicide is an emotive topic, a tough discussion, but bringing it into the realm of real conversation is important if we are going to make a difference. Wairarapa leads the country at the moment for suicides per capita and we really, really need to improve.

Suicide is endlessly complicated. There can be unresolved anger, guilt and blame, the burden of never knowing why, and the stolen opportunity to help. Conversations you wished you had had, and the frustration of hindsight that sees things clearly but all too late.

A suicide forever alters the lives of all those left behind. Not only is the deceased cheated of a life unlived, but the lives of all those that loved them are forever changed. So when we consider our suicide statistics it’s never just as simple as a number on a page, one count per person. It’s a whole community to count – the family, friends, neighbours and all the people touched – it’s a much bigger number.

And collectively, as that bigger number, we can make an effort to make a difference.  Finding the tools to help people through their hard times is a great place to start.

Too Many, Wairarapa is encouraging people to talk about what’s going on for them in the tough times, and to seek help long before suicide becomes an option. It’s encouraging a community to look out for each other, to notice when someone seems to be struggling, and to check in with them. Take a minute to ask if they are OK. Take a minute to show you care. Take a minute to find out where help is, if help is needed. Take a minute to change a life.

Some useful free phone helplines

These 24/7 free phones are operated by trained counsellors who can help you talk through problems and identify ways of coping. www.mentalhealth.org.nz also has some excellent go-to reference lists.

  • Lifeline: 0800 543 354
  • Kidsline: 0800 543 754 54 (0800 KIDSLINE) supporting under 18 yrs
  • Youthline: 0800 376 633, free text 234
  • Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (supports 5-18 yr olds, 1pm-11pm)
  • Women’s Refuge Crisis Line 0800 733 843
  • Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757
  • Samaritans: 0800 726 666
  • Healthline : 0800 611 116
  • Outline NZ 0800 688 5463 (0800 OUTLINE) sexuality and gender identity issue