More than 500 pairs of shoes are being collected throughout the country to form a visual representation of the Kiwi lives lost to suicide.
Kerikeri woman Natalie Blakey is collating footwear on behalf of Yes We Care, a campaign by the Public Services Association.
The shoes – 579 pairs – are a representation of the number of New Zealanders who died from suicide from June 2015 to June 2016 (according to data from the Coroner’s Office). Of these 21 were from Northland.
They will form part of a roadshow from Cape Reinga on August 26, culminating in Wellington, where shoes will be placed on the steps of Parliament on September 10 which is also International Suicide Prevention Day.
At each shoe event, a local person affected by suicide will tell their personal story, holding a pair of their loved ones shoes, while standing in front of the backdrop of the 579 pairs.
Blakey says it is a scary way of looking at how often suicide is happening.
She says her partner lost a close friend to suicide, so the cause is dear to her.
“It’s not talked about, but it does happen – it’s scary to think that it happens so often.
“It will be a really big eye opener to see how many people should have been standing there.”
Yes We Care co-ordinator Simon Oosterman says it will be a very strong and visual image of the Kiwis we have lost.
They are campaigning for the Government to hold an independent mental health inquiry and set a suicide reduction target, among other health issues affecting New Zealanders.
He says 200 families touched by suicide, wanted the organisation’s help to raise awareness around suicide prevention.
“If the Government can’t even agree on a reduction target, what’s the chance of an aspirational goal of zero?” Oosterman says.
He says 77 per cent of New Zealanders also support an independent inquiry into mental health services.
Yes We Care is a health funding coalition of community groups, health service-users/patients and their families as well as people working in health.
The coalition believes that every Kiwi should get the care they need when the need it, Oosterman says.
Details for Northland events are yet to be confirmed. A separate roadshow will also make its way from Bluff to Wellington.
To donate shoes up to August 18 contact Natalie on 021 0867 1031.
Where to get help:
Lifeline (open 24/7) – 0800 543 354
Depression Helpline (open 24/7) – 0800 111 757
Healthline (open 24/7) – 0800 611 116
Samaritans (open 24/7) – 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
Youthline (open 24/7) – 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email email@example.com
0800 WHATSUP children’s helpline – phone 0800 9428 787 between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 10pm on weekends. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day at www.whatsup.co.nz.
Kidsline (open 24/7) – 0800 543 754. This service is for children aged 5 to 18. Those who ring between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays will speak to a Kidsline buddy. These are specially trained teenage telephone counsellors.
Your local Rural Support Trust – 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)
Alcohol Drug Helpline (open 24/7) – 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691 for free.
For further information, contact the Mental Health Foundation’s free Resource and Information Service (09 623 4812).