"He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata."[What is the most important thing in the world. It is people, it is people, it is people.]

Warren Brown and Sandra Pell are part of a group nobody wants to be a part of, yet sadly, one many people find themselves in.

Having both lost their sons to suicide four years earlier, Brown and Teresa Back, who has since moved on, decided to create a group in 2012 to allow people in similar situations to come together and heal.

STAROS, standing for "Stu and Ryan Our Sons" began with six-week block sessions but quickly progressed to something more regular as interest grew.


It was a group Brown attended in Tauranga, and the lack of similar services in Hawke's Bay prompted him to start one himself. His son, Stuart died in June 2009.

"You can read whatever you like, but until it knocks on your door, you really don't have an idea of what's going on - it's a dreadful thing.

"It changes your life, no matter who you are. For me, it changed my perspective about a lot of things and I am more positive about life as a whole - you seem not to worry about a lot of the things you used to before."

He found speaking about what was going on beneficial.

"I found it so beneficial being able to be in a room talking to people about the same stuff, your feelings and your emotions that you're going through but other people are also going through as well.

"I can't change what has happened to him. I can't bring him back. But what I can do is make a difference to what happens next for me and potentially other people."

When Back left for Australia, her place was filled by Pell, a member of the group who lost her father in 1997, and early last year STAROS became a trust.

As facilitators Brown and Pell meet with anyone who's interested to explain the purpose of STAROS and answer any questions.

They were also willing to speak with individuals alone if they couldn't face a group.

"A lot of people in our situation have close family and friends who switch off from that grief part of it. A lot of friends expect you to get over it and move on and initially I used to worry about that but I think it is more that they don't understand and that is society as a whole. There is that lack of understanding about what people are going through."

A remembrance service will be held this afternoon at Taruna College from 2pm to 4pm and people are invited to bring a photo or an item of significance, light a candle in memory of their loved one and have an opportunity to share some thoughts about them.

For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/StarosHB or http://www.staros.org.nz/ Otherwise, email support@staros.org.nz or call Warren
on 027 286 4071 or Sandra on 027 684 3033.

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 (available 24/7)
• 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.