‘We want to aim for no more sui­cides’


Fol­low­ing the high-pro­file suc­cess of the Shoe Project, a re­gional sui­cide trust is hop­ing for wide­spread re­gional par­tic­i­pa­tion in World Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Day on Sun­day.

Life Mat­ters Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Trust chair­woman Corinda Tay­lor is en­cour­ag­ing those af­fected by, or work­ing in sec­tors deal­ing with, sui­cide across the wider Otago re­gion, to gather in Dunedin for a spe­cial event at the city’s St Paul’s Cathe­dral this weekend.

The day will mark the con­clu­sion at Par­lia­ment of the Shoe Project’s na­tion­wide tour of 579 pairs of shoes rep­re­sent­ing the 579 Kiwi lives lost to sui­cide from June 2015 to June 2016, with its own ‘‘im­pact state­ment’’, Tay­lor said.

The lat­est statis­tics from the Coroner’s Of­fice show an in­crease in sui­cide deaths to 606 for 2016-17.

Life Mat­ters and fel­low par­tic­i­pat­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions will be plac­ing 606 pairs of shoes on the steps of St Paul’s, in ad­vance of a two-hour event be­gin­ning in the cathe­dral at 6pm.

The cathe­dral will be lit by 606 can­dles, in a fur­ther com­mem­o­ra­tion of those lost, she said.

‘‘It’s of­ten quite an emo­tional event for those tak­ing part,’’ Tay­lor said.

‘‘But along­side the sad­ness and mem­o­ries, we place an em­pha­sis on the help and sup­port avail­able, and our shared drive for change.’’

A trio of guest speak­ers un­der­pin the cathe­dral event, with an op­por­tu­nity for those af­fected by sui­cide to tell their sto­ries in a re­spect­ful en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘We’re de­lighted to wel­come our guest speak­ers on Sun­day, all of whom have their own per­sonal sto­ries of in­ter­ven­tion, re­cov­ery, and hope to share with the au­di­ence.

‘‘We’ll also have a range of mu­si­cal and other per­for­mances dur­ing the evening.’’

On Mon­day, Tay­lor will go on to form part of an ex­ten­sive del­e­ga­tion fly­ing to Welling­ton to lobby Gov­ern­ment for ef­fec­tive change to tackle New Zealand’s ‘‘un­ac­cept­ably high’’ rates of sui­cide.

‘‘We want to aim for no more sui­cides,’’ she said.

‘‘We’d like to see a re­duc­tion in men­tal health wait­ing lists, im­proved early in­ter­ven­tion, and bet­ter train­ing for all frontline staff in the health, so­cial work and other sec­tors.

‘‘We need the Gov­ern­ment to es­tab­lish an ur­gent men­tal health in­quiry, and set a tar­get for sui­cide of zero.’’

Corinda Tay­lor is en­cour­ag­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in World Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Day in Dunedin on Sun­day.

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