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


She rolls a pretty mean ice cream - but Jessie MacLeod throws an even better punch.

And soon she'll be putting up the biggest fight of her life - against suicide.

"I lost one of my best friends in 2014, it was unexpected so it was extremely tragic, he left behind a wife and two daughters, including his own family, his brothers, his mum, his nieces."

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MacLeod has been training 8-10 times every week since January for her turn in the ring at September's Battle for Life charity boxing event.

And she's doing it all for one reason.

"I think there's not enough awareness raised around suicide prevention."

READ MORE:

Investigation: The untold story of teen suicide in the North.

Investigation: The S Word - What's going on at school?

The full Break the Silence series can be read here.

She's not the only one who believes this.

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Patrick O'Brien founded Battle for Life - Hawke's Bay's longest running boxing event - seven years ago.

O'Brien says: "Our little catch cry for the event is to inspire change, because you can't expect people to just change you've gotta give them a reason to want to change and that's what we're doing."

Initially, the boxing event was formed during a public outcry after two local teenagers were killed in a drink driving incident.

"What I realised is everyone knows you shouldn't drink drive but not everyone is listening," O'Brien says.

"So we just delivered the message in a different forum. The purpose was to get people excited and come and see and hear positive things so we use sport, music and culture as a means to do that ."

It's way of making change.

The event now focuses on raising awareness of health issues and suicide prevention and MacLeod didn't need convincing to jump on board this year.

"We definitely need to be pushing the awareness of this cause to prevent it from happening," she says.

And this boxing event delivers that message, loud and strong, through a different forum.

"I guess what we're trying to do is just build resilience in people, like the event's called, Battle for Life, life can be pretty tough so we are just building that resilience," O'Brien says.

Resilience in life, and resilience in the ring. All 32 boxers at September's event are focused on making it through their bout, and raising money for the cause.

"The main thing is making change, and what we've realised is money helps that, it's not about the money but the more we can generate the more people we can help,"

All funds raised will be donated to Hawke's Bay trust, Anahera o Te Rangi where it is then distributed among several grassroots organisations.

Battle for Life is on September 9 at Hastings Sports Centre, more information can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/Battle-for-life-104229486308379/

https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/bfljmacleod

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 111.

If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:

DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234

There are lots of places to get support. For others, click here.

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