A Ruakākā man says he could easily have shown up in the most at-risk Northland suicide group of the last five years: Pākeha male, aged between 30 and 34-years-old, and a beneficiary.
Two years ago, had Aaron* gone ahead with his attempt to die he would have bumped up the 2017/18 number for his age group to seven dead, rather than six.
That year, a record high number of 41 people died by suicide in Northland. This year, the statistics were slightly better, with 33 deaths or 20 per cent fewer from June 2018 to June 2019; of which there were four in the group Aaron might have fallen into.
Following the Chief Coroner's release of national statistics in August, the Advocate obtained a break-down of Northland suicides over the last five years.
There were 159 deaths by suicides in Northland in the past five years.
Shockingly, three were children between the ages of 10 and 14, all since 2017.
There were 51 occupations listed, the largest groups being: retired, 18; students (ages unspecified), 14; unemployed, 41; beneficiaries, 17; self-employed, 5; and farmers, 7.
Last year there were 21 European, Asian, Pacifika or other, and 12 Māori suicides in Northland; 23 male and 10 female across all ages. Over the five years there were 105 European, Asian, Pacifika and other; and 49 Māori.
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Aaron agrees the numbers for men across all ages speak for themselves, but he doesn't like the idea he's in a ''statistical group'': He's an individual, what applies to him is personal, even though other people suffer similar mental illnesses and other problems that ''stop them getting ahead''.
Aaron says an unhappy childhood, schizophrenia, its related medication and other addictions and ''being stuck on a benefit'' contribute to him still feeling suicidal at times.
He's upset about the desperate times he's needed help and hasn't been able to access it.
''One time, they'd changed the medication I'd been on for years and years and within a week I was in the midst of an emotional storm. I was going mad and couldn't see it getting better.
''I was sent backwards and forwards, told I'd get this help and that help. In three months I got to see a nurse once, for five minutes.''
The Ruakākā man says it nearly tipped him over again. He still has dark thoughts but he will continue to hang on to life, despite ''the crap.''
The two men might be as different as chalk and cheese, but Mark Cameron is a Ruawai dairy farmer who understands how depression can be too heavy a blanket to even try to lift off yourself at times.
In the last five years, seven Northland farmers or farm workers have committed suicide; two last year, three in 2017/18 and 2 in 2016/17.
Cameron had depression a few years ago and, once he realised its power, he was shocked. He knows farmers who have suicided.
He believes depression in the rural sector is compacted not just by personal matters but general issues negatively hitting farmers. These include extra regulations - especially proposals over water use, farming costs and income losses.
Cameron wants to help turn around what sector leaders have called ''an epidemic of suicides''.
Farmers often work in remote areas, and many are still stigmatised about even admitting to depression let along seeking help for it, Cameron says. He believes many rural people feel isolated by more than distance, yet are often not supported.
''I'd be quite happy to advocate for more awareness. Farmers are taking on a lot of responsibility these days and feel alienated from society as well.
''I'm just a dairy farmer with a rowdy voice who leans over the fence occasionally and yells out to the neighbours, 'hey, how are you?'''
Greater help might soon be as close as the local GP, rather than via a public health service as long and winding as a country road.
Northland District Health Board's general manager of mental health and addiction services, Ian McKenzie admits suicide is a complex public health issue that requires a whole of community approach.
''Suicide does not discriminate and we know that suicide is less likely to occur when adversity is low and resilience is high, hence our focus on building resilience throughout our Northland communities.''
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has recently published the Suicide Prevention Strategy 2019-2029 and Action Plan 2019-2024, Every Life Matters. Northland DHB offers suicide-bereaved counselling at no cost and following He Ara Oranga - the Mental Health Inquiry, there will be more support for mental health and addictions, with wider choice and access.
''We support improving the range of help that people can receive from their GP,'' McKenzie said.
The MOH is currently asking qualified people or agencies to submit a proposal for Integrated Primary Mental Health and Addiction Services accessed through GPs. The service will make a range of supports rapidly available to a general practice's enrolled population.
The figures used in this article are based on information from the Ministry of Justice's Case Management System. The provisional suicide figures will differ slightly from Ministry of Health or District Health Board figures as some deaths might still be before the Coroner's Court.
* The Advocate agreed not to use Aaron's surname.
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.
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