Northland's shocking youth suicide rate has prompted the Super Maori Fullas to get on their bikes to raise awareness of the killer issue.
The Super Maori Fullas, a group set up to raise awareness of family violence by riding their motorcycles around the country, will be at the forefront of the Green Ribbon Ride when it hits Whangarei on January 25, 2013. The Fullas will ride to Cape Reinga in the lead-up to the Green Ribbon Ride before it sets off around the upper North Island from Whangarei.
Green Ribbon Ride co-ordinator Kahui Neho said the aim was to raise awareness of the country's appalling suicide rate, particularly among its youth and in Northland.
In October the situation in Northland led to Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean going public with his concerns.
Judge MacLean urged Northlanders to seek help if they, a family member or loved one needs it after receiving details of 32 suspected suicides in Northland up to that stage in 2012, almost double the 17 recorded in 2011 and well ahead of the high of 26 in 2010.
The judge said of the 32 suspected cases, 12 were in the 10 to 19 age group. The region averaged three suspected suicides in that age group annually. As well, 15 of the suspected suicides involved people who identified themselves as Maori, compared to nine in 2010. There have been several more suspected suicides since the chief coroner released his figures.
He said the number of those aged from 10 to 19 in the 2012 figures was a real focus for the community and he urged parents, schools, tertiary institutions or other groups that had concerns to seek help from the resources in the region.
Judge MacLean said while the road toll in Northland had fallen, suicide rates in the region were going up. He said Maori leaders needed to be aware of how big the problem was. Research showed that a sense of alienation and disassociation could contribute to the risk of suicide.
Judge MacLean said steps were being taken to help, with the Northland District Health Board employing a suicide prevention co-ordinator and a pilot programme extended to Northland, whereby any suspected suicide cases are passed straight to the coroner, then on to the suicide-prevention officer so that appropriate support, information and help could rapidly be given to the affected family, institution or community.
The Super Maori Fullas will head the Green Ribbon Ride with a slogan of "It's not OK to go that way." They will be at the Pulse, in Whangarei, for a family fun day from 11am to 5pm on January 25.