20 Nov 2014

Youth taking role in suicide prevention

6:50 pm on 20 November 2014

A youth leader in Kawerau says having rangatahi at the table to help prevent suicide will allow others to open up about the kaupapa.

Community leaders and groups attended the annual hui for the national suicide prevention programme for Māori and Pasifika in Auckland today.

Waka Hourua is a four-year national suicide prevention programme for Māori and Pasifika communities funded by the Ministry of Health. It has two programme partners -Te Rau Matatini and Le Va, which aim to build the capacity of Māori whānau, hapū, iwi, Pasifika families and communities to prevent and reduce suicide.

One of the many kaupapa discussed at the hui was about how to engage with rangatahi and encouraging them to be at the tēpu. (table)

Rose McClutchie, a Kawerau youth leader, says rangatahi want to help deliver the suicide prevention message.

The 18-year-old believes it is time for a change and there's no reason why young people can't be leading it. She says if young people to open up about their stories, others will feel comfortable to do the same.

Peta Ruha is the clinical manager for Tūwharetoa ki Kawerau Health, Education and Social Services and says the role of rangatahi in prevention is important for her community.

Kawerau has seen the devastating affects of suicide and Ms Ruha says there have been community initiatives which have mobilised in the rohe and are doing well.

"The priority for us has been about getting over ourselves and giving the rākau back to the rangatahi to have a voice and relearning how to sit at the tēpu not only with whānau but relearning how to sit at the table with them and in turn supporting them to make a stand to come forward and drive some of those initiatives that are relevant to them."

Sir Mason Durie is Waka Hourua's leadership group chair, which helps advises the programme. He says rangatahi are taking a leading role, and recalls a seminar early this year where high school students from 10 schools spoke about the risk factors and how they can get involved.

One kaupapa raised by the students was how to manage online bullying, Sir Mason says.

"They thought it was something that they should tackle rather than leaving it to adults and teachers. There were other risks like how do you manage parents who won't talk about things that you want to talk about ... I thought that was a really great example of rangatahi taking the lead themselves."

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