A movement aimed at breaking down the stigma and silence that surrounds suicide will return to Tauranga this weekend in an effort to help curb the region's concerning suicide figures.

About 800 people are expected to take part in this year's HopeWalk event at Memorial Park on Saturday. It is the second HopeWalk in the city since the march was created in 2015 by South Auckland pastor Joseph Fa'afiu, who lost a close friend to suicide in 2010 and vowed to make a change.

In Tauranga, Employ NZ Youth Services youth coach Jana Chase has been working with members of Young Connex who have organised the free 3.8km walk of hope.

"It's definitely something that touches a lot of people quite closely. We have such high suicide rates in New Zealand. Everybody knows somebody that's attempted to or taken their own life," Chase said.


Over the past 10 years, 345 people in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board area died by suicide. Of this, 30 were within the past year.

"The whole point of HopeWalk is showing people that you're open to talking about that with them. It's such a taboo subject but by showing up, it breaks that taboo down a little. You are showing people that you are cool to talk about that kind of stuff," Chase said.

"You can go to organisations for a counsellor but actually, in the first instance, it's actually friends and family that save the most lives. It's about being there for each other, not just relying on our pretty stretched mental health services."

People taking part in the walk are encouraged to wear yellow, the international colour for suicide awareness. The walk will travel from Memorial Park to Tauranga Fish & Dive at Marine Park. Waipu Hauora will be among services and organisations taking part.

Last year about 400 people took part in the Tauranga march despite poor weather.

"That tells me that everybody is really passionate about the cause," Chase said.

HopeWalk is a registered charitable trust which operates with the slogan "Stronger together". Ambassadors include Tauranga artist Graeme Hoete, known as Mr G, and Barter Barber Sam Dowdall, who have both used their personal struggles to help highlight suicide prevention.

Hoete said he was passionate about helping any cause that raised awareness on the subject of suicide and depression.


People are invited to register their interest through the Eventbrite website before meeting on the day. HopeWalk check-in and T-Shirt pick up is at Memorial Park from 12.15pm before the walk starts at 1pm.

Where to get help:

¦If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider.

¦However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

¦Or if you need to talk to someone else: ¦LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7) ¦SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)

¦YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 ¦KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)

¦WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)

¦DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

¦SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666

¦OUTLINE: 0800 688 5463 (confidential service for the LGBTQI+ community, their friends and families)