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Responding to suicide among young Māori

8 August 2017 Midday release

Responding to suicide among young Māori requires a different approach

Responses to suicide among young Māori and their whanau will require a different approach than for other age groups and Pakeha. The biggest challenge in New Zealand which will continue to threaten the wellbeing of Māori youth arises from the existing inequities that simply cannot be addressed through uniform, one size fits all approaches to reduce suicide or improve mental health and wellbeing.

Suicide prevention approaches must include cultural, social, economical, educational, historical and community contexts to influence suicide risk for young Māori. Any approach to suicide prevention for Māori communities also needs to take into account the enduring negative effects of New Zealand’s unequal society and the impacts from its colonial history in the lives of Māori whanau, hapu and Iwi. These include institutional abuse and racism, loss of land, disruptions to whānau, Māori customary rights and practices.

Through the work of Te Rau Matatini and the National Waka Hourua Māori and Pacific Suicide Prevention Programme, evidence is showing Māori prefer culturally sound and direct approaches to talking about suicide. They are asking for programmes that connect with them as individuals and as members of larger family units and communities that meet their aspirations. They are asking for diverse and meaningful approaches to provide them with the skills, resources and strength in ways to understand and respond if someone might be struggling or at risk of suicide. Māori have an important role in turning the issues around in regard to the high youth suicide rates in New Zealand.


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