Publication:

CHB Mail - 2021-10-14

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Number of suspected suicide deaths across Hawke’s Bay District Health Board Time for ‘turning the tide’ on tragedy

NEWS

Sahiban Hyde

Zack Makoare says we need to address pain and not paperwork when it comes to Hawke’s Bay’s latest grim suicide statistics. Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall released her annual suicide statistics yesterday, which show for the 2020 calendar year there were 35 suspected suicides in the region, second only to 2019 when there were 38 recorded. Those two numbers are the highest they have been since 2009. Makoare and his wife Georgina set up Te Taitimu Trust (TTT) in 2007, seven years after their teenage son Kelly took his own life in 2000. Kelly went missing from his boarding school in 2000, and a subsequent search led Makoare to discover the 15-year-old’s body at their family home. “Addressing pain, not paperwork, is key,” he says. It was during that time the philosophy of “turning the tide” was born and creating the trust was a way of honouring the memory of their son. “The trust’s mission is to ‘turn the tide’ on Ma¯ori health disparities and motivate tamariki, rangatahi and wha¯nau to become rangatira of the future,” he said. Te Taitimu Trust uses a strengthsbased approach that supports rangatahi to engage with wha¯nau, te ao Ma¯ori, and the natural environment while gaining an understanding of the role of tangaroa and hinemoana in nurturing their health. “My biggest thing is to get more people involved in working together. The world has changed and we, as a trust, are doing things for our rangatahi to connect to them,” so another family doesn’t have to face what they did. “Collaborating for impact recognises that collective energies are more likely to succeed than solo efforts.” TTT works together with a wide range of community agencies including health agencies, schools, police, local authorities, Ma¯ori NGOs, the DHB, iwi, and national organisations such as Te Puni Ko¯ kiri, Water Safety NZ and MOH. “You have to be more proactive and prevention is the only way forward.” Lifetime Black Power member and community advocate Denis O’Reilly said the link between meth use and suicide could not be denied. “You have only got to look at wastewater results, you can’t deny the link between meth use and suicide,” he said. “In the last couple of days I have had to go to two tragic close calls, a couple of people who called out for help,” he said. In July, Hawke’s Bay Today’s sister publication the NZ Herald obtained two years of wastewater test results, which police have used to monitor consumption of illegal drugs around the country since late 2018. Between 2018 and 2020, the figures indicated the highest levels of meth use were in Kaitaia, Opotiki, Wairoa, Kawerau and Tokoroa. Their residents consumed more than twice the national average of 4.11 grams per 1000 people a week. Wairoa, Napier and Hastings were ranked above the national average for meth use per person. Wairoa ranked third, with the test results showing an average of 10.45g per 1000 people a week. Hastings ranked 21st, with numbers sitting at 4.94g per 1000 people per week, and Napier was 12th with 6.31g per 1000 people a week. Suicide Prevention Office director Carla na Nagara, acknowledged the tragedy reflected in the data, and while there was a decrease, it was too early to establish a trend. Nationally, it was the second consecutive year numbers had decreased, but na Nagara said the evidence showed there was a need to see a decline over at least a fiveyear period before a meaningful downward trend in suicide numbers and rates could be established. “We all have a part to play to prevent similar deaths from occurring.”

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