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Volunteers collect shoes for suicide prevention

Thursday 17 August, 2pm

Volunteers collect shoes for suicide prevention

Volunteers are collecting hundreds of shoes across the country to draw attention to our alarming suicide rates, says YesWeCare.nz.

New Zealand has the highest youth suicide rate in the developed world.

Volunteers are collecting 579 pairs of shoes to represent each Kiwi lost to suicide in 2016.

Suicide prevention groups and families and friends who have lost loved ones will line up shoes in more than twenty towns across New Zealand.

At each event a bereaved local will hold a pair of their loved ones’ shoes, share their story and talk about the change they want to see.

The first events will be in Cape Reinga and Bluff on Saturday 26 August.

The final event will be at Parliament on 10 September, International Suicide Prevention Day.

Some of the families will travel to the event at Parliament and speak at a public meeting on 11 September, the first day of advanced voting.

YesWeCare.nz and the Public Service Association, New Zealand's mental health union, are supporting groups and families running the events.

YesWeCare.nz is a coalition of community groups, patients and their families and people working in health.

Coalition coordinator Simon Oosterman says the shoes will provide a striking visual reminder of the toll suicide has on communities.

"Suicide is preventable," he says. "We need to talk more about how to identify people at risk and support them to get help."

Mr Oosterman says the number of people in life-threatening situations asking for help, and not getting it, is "deeply concerning and unacceptable".

“We need to ensure the Government of the day adequately funds mental health services so it can provide the help Kiwis need, when they need it,” he says.

Oosterman says bereaved families in the coalition wrote a letter to politicians earlier this month asking them to have the “courage to put politics aside”.

"We want every party to commit to setting a suicide prevention target and holding an urgent independent inquiry into our mental health crisis," he says. "The Government vetoed setting a target and refused to hold an inquiry despite 77% of New Zealand's wanting one."

• Find your local event at: yeswecare.nz/the-shoe-project/events

• Volunteers can contact kiaora@yeswecare.nz for help to setup an event.

• Shoes collecting closes a day before each local event.


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