Tim Metcalfe says our capacity to be "good listeners" was important in communicating with those who were suffering from mental health issues and that Covid-19 had strengthened a sense of community in Whanganui.
Thursday is World Suicide Prevention Day and highlights the need to work together to support people affected by suicide, and to reach out to those in the community who are most at risk.
"I've encountered some tragic situations where a parent has committed suicide and I've seen the impact on the children," the Jigsaw Whanganui executive officer said.
"The work that gets done in our children's early years really is key to good communication as they go through their teens and further on, when they do encounter difficulties and challenges in their lives.
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Metcalfe said that the Covid-19 pandemic had heightened the feeling of community in Whanganui, and that goodwill between each other was "critical" moving forward in the effort to prevent suicide.
"Through Covid-19 we've learned that all of us have a role to play, whether it's in our own whanau, or across our neighbourhoods.
"The work of mental health and wellbeing involves all of us, it's not something left to the headshrinkers at the hospital.
"Often there's a feeling that our mental health should be left to the specialists, but all of us can be a primary mental health worker, all of us can listen carefully to people."
"People reach out for help in many different ways, so being patient and concerned, that's very important."
Where to get help
• Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• 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.