One of the things that has really struck a chord with me recently has been something that has come to the fore in a prominent way, namely suicide.
Only a while or so ago, I was in Kawerau at a concert which was organised and run by the youth of the town. It was run under the banner "He Whanau Kotahi Tatou", a group who have come together to support those who have felt lonely, concerned, sad, and angry because they have lost loved ones to suicide. In one year, there have been more than 10 deaths from suicide.
Last week I attended a forum on suicide. Some experts in this field provided an insight into this issue. Two weeks ago there was a National Conference on Suicide. And in this last week, two children have taken their lives. One 12 and one 14 years old.
From what I have heard, one is almost wasting time asking why this happens.
Let's not forget, these are children we are talking about, these are children who come from families who are caring, supportive, and loving.
These young ones are knowledgeable enough, have skills, have friends, and who love their parents. In other words, they have the world at their feet, but it seems they do not see a place for themselves in it.
I say we are at a point now where we say, "that is it, no more. No more suicides". The problem is that I do not have the authority to enforce such a call, nor indeed do you. It is really at the fingertips of each person.
Perhaps we should make a very hard stand with this. If a child commits suicide, let us consider not celebrating their lives on our marae; perhaps bury them at the entrance of the cemetery so their deaths will be condemned by the people.
In doing these things, it demonstrates the depth of disgust the people have with this.
Yes it is a hard stance, but what else can we do?
I am sorry for raising this issue in this way, but I do so having seen mums and dads, grandparents in their despair, in their real grief. All of us must be concerned.
Link: Te reo version