Shoes for suicide prevention
Hundreds of pairs of shoes are to be laid out at the foot of the city clock tower to mark lives lost to suicide.
Palmerston North suicide prevention campaigners Katina Hughes and Alan Dingley will lay out the shoes in The Square for World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday to symbolise the suicide deaths of 606 people in New Zealand in the past year.
While the official figure was 606, Hughes said some deaths were not included in those numbers for various reasons.
‘‘The figures don’t count people who have drugs or alcohol in their system, or children who [coroners] feel were too young to know what they were doing.
‘‘So the number of people taking their own lives is higher,’’ Hughes said.
Palmerston North’s youth suicide rate was inordinately high, Dingley said.
‘‘The shoes are a way of open- ing the dialogue - helping those affected by suicide to connect with others and realise they are not alone,’’ the youth librarian said.
While the high youth suicide rate was scary, there were also hidden numbers of middle-aged men and elderly who ’’just disappear’’, Hughes said.
‘‘No demographic is free from this,’’ Dingley said.
‘‘So we talk - that’s what we have to do.‘‘
‘‘Added to the pain of their loss, there’s a stigma attached to suicide as well,’’ Hughes said.
‘‘People find strength in a safe place during events like this.‘‘
She said that those seeking mental health support often had no idea what services there were or where to go for help.
At Sunday’s 6pm vigil the clock tower and light wall will glow yellow to symbolise hope in the face of grief and pain, and in memory of those who had gone.
Hughes hope it would be an uplifting event.
Suicide prevention campaigners Alan Dingley and Katina Hughes are preparing a display of shoes in The Square on Sunday to commemorate those who have taken their own lives.