Suicide prevention campaign launched

9:10 pm on 11 August 2011

A campaign to lower the disproportionately high number of Maori and Pacific people committing suicide has been launched.

The project, run by counselling service Lifeline Aotearoa, includes a range of videos available online and the start of New Zealand's first suicide prevention helpline.

Lifeline Aotearoa chief executive Jo Denvir says Maori have the highest rates of suicide and hospitalisation for intentional self-harm.

She says there are particular communities where suicide is a real problem.

"The Tokoroa community is having a really hard time of it. At Lifeline, we have an education programme that helps people in the community work out ways of how to safely talk about suicide and we really just want communities to start talking about it."

Ms Denvir says Lifeline will fund the helpline for its first few months and hopes the Government will then contribute.

Kaumatua and cultural adviser George Hill, of Ngati Whatua-ki-Kaipara, says the programme started because Maori have acknowledged that suicide is prevalent in their communities.

The phone service, 0508 TAUTOKO (0508 828 8656), to help Maori and Pacific people talk about the subject will be launched on 6 September.