The New Zealand Herald is running a special series about youth suicide called Break The Silence. It will run for approximately five weeks from July 4.

Warning: This article is about youth suicide and may be distressing for some readers.

Life over everything. That's the Raid motto.

Raid is an acronym for "responding to all in distress", but the real ideology behind it is "to raid people's minds from the stigma behind suicide".

Break The Silence: Q&A on Herald special series

The youth-led movement was launched in the aftermath of an unprecedented teen suicide cluster in Northland in 2012.

It was shortly after Colin Taipari-Herewini and Mia Dunn, two 14-year-old students at Kamo High School in Whangarei, killed themselves within weeks of each other that the Te Reo Taiohi youth group rallied to make a change.

Mia Dunn and Colin Taipari-Herewini, both 14. Photos / Supplied
Mia Dunn and Colin Taipari-Herewini, both 14. Photos / Supplied

"This movement was different. It wasn't something that was coming off ideologies about youth; it was for youth and by youth," said Heemi Kapa-Kingi, 21, one of the founding members.

The idea was to support a bunch of young "Raiders" to galvanise Northland's young people "to move out from that space of shame and embarrassment and marginalisation", Kapa-Kingi said.

In essence, it was youth normalising the conversation about suicide.

"We have high suicide rates in the north and not talking about it isn't working. We thought that maybe this could be our new solution."

The Raid website explains the movement as "a small group of young people who are changing the world, one school at a time".

Break The Silence: See the full series here

"Our aim is to show support to our fellow young people and show them that life is the most important gift of all. We will not stop until we make that change," the site states.

New Zealand has the worst teen suicide rate - officially those aged 15-19 - in the developed world. Break the Silence is a New Zealand Herald special series about the issue.

Young Maori men are significantly overrepresented in New Zealand's annual teen suicide rates and the Raid movement has been able to connect with those most at-risk.

"We were able to get cohesion from that demographic because we were that demographic," said Kapa-Kingi.

"It wasn't like a middle-aged Caucasian man telling youth what it's like to be a youth in Kamo High School. We were part of that group, we were part of those circles and we knew what was going on," he said.

Raid, which is funded by the Ngati Hine Health Trust, now has almost 3000 followers on Facebook. It hosts youth-suicide prevention conferences, community events for young people and talks in schools.

"It's about having an open forum to talk to youth and get an accurate depiction of what they're going through," said Raid co-ordinator Rebecca Hooker, 21. "Youth are more likely to speak to people their own age."

Raid now has two hubs in Northland: one in Whangarei and one in Kaitaia, the small Far North town that hit national headlines last year after six people aged 25 and under took their lives within three months.

Kapa-Kingi and Hooker both hope to see the movement rolled out nationally one day. They are hunting to find more youth voices to take over their roles and lead the movement into 2018 as they move on to university study.

• Donate to the Raid movement by contacting them via Facebook.

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.


LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (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)