Families carrying photographs of loved ones lost to suicide were among those who took
part in Tauranga's second HopeWalk on Saturday.

About 450 people headed to Memorial Park to join the 3.8km walk, organised by youth group Young Connex with support from Employ NZ Youth Services.

Employ NZ youth coach Jana Chase said the event aimed to promote the message that talking and listening could help prevent suicide.

"It's about people feeling comfortable to talk and people feeling comfortable to listen.

"A lot of the time people who complete suicide didn't talk to anyone, they just did it.


"Most of the time people are feeling alone and like they can't talk to anyone. They need to know it's okay to feel like that, but they can talk to the people around them.

"You don't have to be a qualified counsellor to be that first responder who listens. Anyone can listen."

Chase said "all types" of people took part in the walk.

"We have a few family groups wearing T-shirts in memory of people. We also had social services workers and lots of young people."

HopeWalk MC Jual Taitua, 17, said it was really nice to see people talking at the event.

"They all felt comfortable on the walk and with each other. Everyone had been through the same thing."

"It's not a bad thing to talk about."

This was Tauranga's second HopeWalk after the inaugural event last year attended by about 400 people.


The walk's message was reflected in a call by the New Zealand Association of Counsellors for World Suicide Prevention Day today.

Association President Bev Weber urged Kiwis to check in with friends and families who may be having mental health issues or going through suicidal ideation.

"It's crucial that we don't isolate those who are feeling their worst. Ask them straight out how they're feeling and offer support in any way you can."