Zack Makoare says we need to address pain and not paperwork when it comes to Hawke's Bay's latest grim suicide statistics.
Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall released her annual suicide statistics on Monday which showed for the 2020 calendar year there were 35 suspected suicides in the region, second only to 2019 when there were 38 recorded.
Those two numbers are the highest they have been since 2009.
Makoare and his wife Georgina set up Te Taitimu Trust (TTT) in 2007, seven years after their teenage son Kelly took his own life in 2000.
Kelly went missing from his boarding school in 2000, and a subsequent search led Makoare to discover his 15-year-old's body at their family home.
"Addressing pain not paperwork is key."
It was during that time the philosophy of 'turning the tide' was born and creating the trust was a way of honouring the memory of their son.
"The trust's mission is to 'Turn the Tide' on Māori health disparities and motivate tamariki, rangatahi and whānau to become rangatira of the future," he said.
Te Taitimu Trust uses a strengths-based approach which supports rangatahi to engage with whānau, te ao Māori, and the natural environment while gaining an understanding of the role of tangaroa and hinemoana in nurturing their health.
"My biggest thing is to get more people involved in working together. The world has changed and we, as a trust, are doing things for our rangatahi to connect to them," so another family doesn't have to face what they did.
"Collaborating for impact recognises that collective energies are more likely to succeed than solo efforts."
TTT works together with a wide range of community agencies including health agencies, schools, police, local authorities, Māori NGOs, the DHB, iwi, and national organisations such as Te Puni Kōkiri, Water Safety NZ and MOH.
"You have to be more proactive and prevention is the only way forward."
Lifetime Black Power member and community advocate Denis O'Reilly said the link between meth use and suicide could not be denied.
"You have only got to look at wastewater results, you can't deny the link between meth use and suicide," he said.
"In the last couple of days I have had to go to two tragic close calls, a couple of people who called out for help," he said.
In July, the NZ Herald obtained two years of wastewater test results which police used to monitor consumption of illegal drugs around the country since late 2018.
Between 2018 and 2020, the figures indicated the highest levels of meth use per person were in Kaitaia, Opotiki, Wairoa, Kawerau, Tokoroa and Huntly.
Their residents consumed more than twice the national average of 4.11 grams per 1000 people a week.
Wairoa, Napier and Hastings were ranked above the national average for meth use per person.
Wairoa ranked third, with the test results showing an average of 10.45g per 1000 people a week.
Hastings ranked 21st, with numbers sitting at 4.94g per 1000 people per week, and Napier was 12th with 6.31g per 1000 people a week.
Director of the Suicide Prevention Office, Carla na Nagara, acknowledged the tragedy reflected in the data, and while there was a decrease, it was too early to establish a trend.
Nationally, it was the second consecutive year numbers had decreased, but na Nagara said the evidence showed there was a need to see a decline over at least a five-year period before a meaningful downward trend in suicide numbers and rates could be established.
"We all have a part to play to prevent similar deaths from occurring."
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:
• 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202