Willi Henley had no trouble finding folk to support Kaikohe's contribution to National Suicide Awareness Day at Lindvart Park on Sunday.

Pairs of shoes were carefully placed to represent those who had taken their own lives in the last year. Mr Henley said no one was immune from suicide's "long-reaching pain".
"We are all responsible in changing this. We have to be," he said.

"There is enough of us to make it right, and I just wanted to give our community the opportunity to gather and start a safe, healthy conversation, offering support to each other, and share past lessons and successes."

Sunday's response, on a cold, wet day with less than a week's notice, showed what could happen when people cared, he added. Those people would go back to their homes in Kaeo, Kerikeri, Kawakawa, the Hokianga, Tautoro and Kaikohe, "even a couple from Finland," and start another conversation, offering hope and encouragement.


"I am starting a Facebook page (Choose Life), where everyone is welcome to offer and accept tautoko/support and aroha/love, another contact point for awhi/help. Every day, be kind to one another," Mr Henley said.

Suzee Ross said it had been her utmost pleasure to see a community come together for a cause that affected so many families in the North. She was particularly impressed by those who had had the courage to share their stories.

"Some shared their stories of loss, some shared their stories of how they stepped up to save a life, and some who missed their opportunity to do so," she said. "One brave, extraordinary women had the courage to speak to us about wanting to take her own life, and the path of finding self-value and her survival.

"I learned today that everyone has been touched by someone taking their own life, and what I took out of the day is that it is our responsibility, as whanau and community, to look out for each other. Look for the signs, and don't be afraid to ask the hard questions.

Love one another. Life is too short, and we must band together to not lose one more precious soul from our beautiful country.

"Band together Kaikohe. Let's uplift our young, keep them strong, and show them that they have value, that they matter and that everyone has a purpose."

Where to get help:

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 (Mon-Fri 1pm to 10pm. Sat-Sun 3pm-10pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
Samaritans 0800 726 666
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.