Shoes for sui­cide pre­ven­tion

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

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.

PHOTO: DAVID UNWIN/STUFF

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.

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