Shoes bring home loss from suicide

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Toni Ryan, Masterton, wants to collect 600 pairs of shoes to represent the number of suicides each year in New Zealand. PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK
Toni Ryan, Masterton, wants to collect 600 pairs of shoes to represent the number of suicides each year in New Zealand. PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK

A Masterton mother who is "irreversibly broken" following her son's suicide in 2011 is collecting 600 pairs of shoes to create a display in Masterton for World Suicide Prevention Day in September.

Toni Ryan will be displaying the shoes in a public space to honour the memories of hundreds of New Zealanders who take their own lives each year -- "last year gone was 564 and I really don't foresee a substantial drop this year in our suicide rate", she said.

"I think it's really important that we honour the memories and the fight of those that we've lost to suicide. We also need to honour their families and recognise the depth of the gap that is left when you lose someone you love very much."

Mrs Ryan, whose 16-year-old son Sam took his own life in 2011, said there was nothing that fills the hole of losing someone to suicide.

"Five years on and there is not a single day that I don't wake up hoping for something magic to happen to bring him back."

Mrs Ryan said the display of shoes would give a visual aid of "the intensity of how big this problem is and help to bring a little bit of a personal touch to it rather than just figures".

"The reality is that the stigma associated with suicide and even those who are bereaved by suicide is something that I would like to see gone," she said.

"You never know what the person standing next to you is going through, so just be kind, it's not rocket science. It's just about a community caring about each other. This is a good community. Let's get together and be part of the solution."

Mrs Ryan posted a callout for spare shoes on Facebook earlier this week and a few Wairarapa businesses have jumped on board to help with the shoe collection. Farmlands in Masterton, Tractor Lawnmower & Chainsaw Services in Carterton, and Wairarapa Chiropractic in Masterton will be collection points for people wanting to donate a pair of shoes to the cause.

"The people at these businesses have kindly agreed to have shoes dropped off and can I just say, anyone who donates, thanks heaps, you all rock."

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)

Youth services: (06) 3555 906

Youthline: 0800 376 633

Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm to 6pm weekdays)

Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)

Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

CASPER Suicide Prevention -- If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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