Sharing hope and rallying together to raise awareness about suicide is the aim of an upcoming walk event.

This year's Rotorua HopeWalk is taking place on Saturday, September 15 from 10am at the Lakefront Village Green by Memorial Dr opposite QE Health.

There are no registrations.

Organisers Chris Smith, Elaina Hargreaves, Thomas O' Leary and Mataku-Ariki de Roo have all had experience with suicide in some way.


Smith said this was the second year of Rotorua's HopeWalk.

She said her daughter had been involved in the Christchurch HopeWalk, so she had decided to find one in her.

"We found one in Hamilton and then said, "Why don't we do one here?".

Smith said the walk was showing support to people, and she doubted that there would be many people in Rotorua who did not know someone who had been affected by suicide.

O' Leary said they knew how troubled parts of the community were, and that the teenage suicide statistics were shocking.

"We just want to draw attention to suicide awareness and show people there is hope and it does not have to be the only avenue to sort out any issues they are having.

"We have a phrase that we use quite regularly - 'It's okay to not be okay'."

Hargreaves said when she took part last year her brother had only been gone for four weeks, and it helped being with others.


"This has been amazing. My brother hasn't even been gone a year yet and it is a way to deal with my grief.

"It's scary more people are dying by suicide rather than car accidents."

De Roo said the walk was about connecting and leaning in on each other.

"We must make an effort to be kind and encourage talking in your whānau. Active listening is important."

People are encouraged to wear yellow, as it is the colour of hope, but it is not compulsory and some people wear T-shirts with photos of loved ones.

Running for Hope co-ordinator Clare Jessep will be taking part in the HopeWalk.

Running for Hope Rotorua is a Facebook page with a focus on running and how it is beneficial for people with depression.

Jessep also gets nominations and gives out a pamper pack each month to someone who needs a pick-me-up.

She said she had not taken part before, and she had decided to because it was about getting awareness out into the community and prevention.

"It's just banding together with the people and supporting others."

Jessep said raising awareness of depression and suicide was important because New Zealand had one of the highest suicide rates in the world.

"It's quite important, and like cancer I think I would be surprised if people didn't know someone who had had depression or another mental illness."

She said prevention to her was connecting, because people do not connect anymore.

"I think it's asking the question 'How are you?' more than once, asking 'How are you really?'".

Aotearoa Riders Against Teen Suicide vice-president Dion Wairepo said they would be riding at the event and escorting the walkers.

"We do awareness and getting the word out there that it's okay to talk.

"I can't focus enough on the talking side of it, because there's a lack of talking. A lot of it is that people don't see the signs."

Any organisations which would like to support the event in any way can contact the HopeWalk Rotorua Facebook page.

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 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline:
0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.