Boy racers unite against suicide

By Taroi Black

A Māori development director from the Mental Health Foundation says suicide rates will continue to increase amongst Māori if we don't factor in the fundamental values of our culture. A convoy of cars met and cruised through Auckland to raise the awareness around this growing epidemic.

More than 700 passionate drivers took part in the Meet and Cruise for Suicide Awareness. The friends of 19 year old Dale Pitout set up the rally after he passed away 2 years ago.

Photo Courtesy / Cameron Middleton

Event co-organiser Te Kaha Reihana said, “Suicide in NZ has to be one of the worst causes of deaths in the first world. I know that disproportionately affects Māori especially amongst other ethnicities in NZ and I hope to make a change.”

Blair Gillman says, “It's quite a shock to us and lets of our friends and family. And we just wanted to start out and try to make a difference and kind of raise the idea that it's okay to ask for help that nobody has to be alone.”

2018 is at the highest level for New Zealand suicide rates since 2007. Female suicides have increased by 44 compared to last year, while male suicides increased by 18.

Director for Māori Development at Mental Health Foundation Ellen Norman says, “It's becoming more of a concern, it's becoming more talked about so for us it's about making sure that we're able to connect with our rangatahi in particular.”

This year's Coroner's report shows Māori males are also over represented in suicide statistics.

“We that have been working in the system for many years knows that our cultural identity is a key factor. It's our protective factor so what we advise we show our rangatahi their culture, get to know who they are, where they are from so that their connected and making sure that they're taken home.”

Meet and Cruise travelled through Auckland with the hope of changing our current figure of 11 people falling to suicide every week in NZ.