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Two Milestones For Suicide Prevention Day

Today (Thursday, September 10) is Suicide Prevention Day and Te Rau Ora wants to mark it by celebrating two key milestones in the battle to save people’s lives.

Te Rau Ora is a national organisation that aims to strengthen Māori health and one of its workstreams is the Te Au National Māori Suicide Prevention Centre. This month the centre achieved its goal of reaching into 1000 Māori homes with support to help prevent suicide through the Tiaki Whānau, Tiaki Ora programme.

Te Au Lead Manager Tio Sewell says while the number of suicides in New Zealand dropped this year compared to previous years, 2019 remains the highest recorded number ever and we are concerned about the impact of COVID.

Statistics also showed suicide rates among Māori were twice as high as those who identified as Non-Māori descent and Sewell says the Tiaki Whānau, Tiaki Ora programme’s approach of by whānau for whānau worked because it empowered Whānau Champions to inspire the change.

“These Champions kōrero and utilise suicide prevention resource kits within their own whānau. The desired outcome is to help our whānau improve their resilience and wellbeing.

“Te Au set their goal to reach 1000 homes through the Tiaki Whānau, Tiaki Ora programme and today we celebrate reaching our target. We met this milestone by taking this kaupapa across the country, building the Whānau Champion networks in communities across Aotearoa.”

However, Sewell says there is still much work to do and many more homes to visit and support. “Suicides continue to happen around the country and are having huge impacts on communities. It is easy to see the demand and need for continued suicide prevention help at the grassroots and community levels. With our people in mind, we are driven to ensure Tiaki Whānau, Tiaki Ora is able to be delivered into the future so that the resources can be delivered to many more homes in our communities.”

To help support that work, this month Te Rau Ora will also distribute $1.6 million to 74 Māori Applicants including whānau, hapū as well as community or iwi groups to support various suicide prevention initiatives happening around New Zealand. The money will be distributed from the Suicide Prevention Community Fund.

Sewell says today’s Suicide Prevention Day is about acknowledging all those who have lost a loved one to suicide and to strengthen the global focus on prevention. He says many of those who have lost friends or whānau to suicide now help others who are thinking about taking their own lives or who are suffering from the grief of losing a loved one. Te Au wants to be able to support those who are working to affect positive change.

“Supporting whānau and communities to help affect change is vitally important. These are the people who know their people and what they need, so it makes sense to provide them with funding so they can continue on with their important mahi.”

To support the global effort for suicide prevention: Register on the International Association for Suicide Prevention: World Suicide Prevention Day at Or visit see the latest trainings or activities in the Māori suicide prevention space.

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