Never give up, let's do life, let's take action.
That's the message this year from Taupō Family Centre in recognition of today being World Suicide Prevention Day. Service manager Jackie Hill said local businesses are getting on board, with staff wearing onesies today to support this year's campaign 'Do Life'.
"Last year we turned the town yellow. With Covid it's not happening this year. But we are asking that people buy a 'Do Life' beanie or a T-shirt or make a donation," said Jackie.
She said registered businesses will have a donation box out today and asks people to give generously so Taupō Family Centre can continue work supporting vulnerable people and their families.
Jackie says the story behind Do Life is about getting real for those who have challenging mental health due to depression, anxiety, or trauma. She said wearing a onesie for the day sends a message of support to those who spend all day in their pyjamas because they can't get out of bed or leave the house.
"It's okay to do your life in a onesie, but we would like you to live your life," said Jackie.
In the days leading up to World Suicide Prevention Day, Taupō Family Centre asked people to send in photos of them doing life. Jackie said people sent in photos where they were out with the kids, down at the lake, sitting reading a book to their children.
"The photo competition is about people Doing Life. The opposite of not getting out of bed, to inspire and motivate," said Jackie.
The suicide statistics for the year ending June 2020 have just been released, and Jackie says for the whole of New Zealand, 654 people took their lives last year.
"The statistics are still far too high. Our message to the community is that no matter how bad thing are, never give up hope for life," said Jackie.
Wanting to address a common misconception that depression was a reason for people committing suicide, Jackie said depression was a contributing factor but reasons for suicide were often complex and people who take their lives tend to have many difficult issues they are experiencing.
A regional breakdown is not yet available, but Jackie said the figures show that nationally there is an increase in people taking their own life among the elderly and people of Asian descent.
Jackie said the team at Taupō Family Centre has noticed an increase in the number of elderly people presenting and says the rising cost of living can be a factor.
Jackie said Covid-19 has been an unsettling experience for those already suffering from anxiety. She said employment issues were also causing instability with some families really struggling and facing complex issues.
"However some families really loved lockdown and used it as a time to take stock and do a wee bit of a family audit to plan where they want to go."
Jackie said people need to understand that worrying is normal and people may have symptoms of anxiety but that doesn't mean they have anxiety. She said this particularly applies to people born in the 2000s who can be casual in their use of language around mental health.
"Some millennials say 'I have anxiety, I have depression' when really they don't. But using this terminology downplays the suffering of people who experience these conditions," said Jackie.
Using social media to tell someone to go and kill themselves is contributing to younger people committing suicide.
"Online bullying is a huge factor in depression and anxiety among 9- to 13-year-olds," said Jackie.
She said suicide prevention was really every day not just today, and hopes people take away a message of hope from the Do Life campaign.
Make a donation to Taupō Family Centre through their Facebook and Instagram pages @WhanauTaupō. Anyone in crisis can also contact Taupō Family Centre through Messenger, phone 376 8222 or 0800WellBeing.
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