This release, reported in the NZ Herald confirms what many know. Although the general trend in suicides appears to be falling, sadly maori and especially young maori men kill themselves more than other groups.
The 2007 suicide rates show that maori kill themselves at a rate of 16.1 people per 100,000 population compared to non-maori at 9.9 per 100,000 population.
Young maori men kill themselves at a rate of 39.5 per 100,000 population.
This is a tragedy that affects us all. What is wrong with our society that maori kill themselves nearly twice as much as non-maori and young maori men kill themselves at four times the overall rate?
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. We must front up to this. I don't know if i'd call it a maori problem - it affects us all. But more maori are killing themselves and we have to help. We have to provide support and hope, for them and their whanau and the community as a whole.
The consumerist culture based around selfishness and exploitation is not our natural way, for maori or anyone. Community and connection is actually more natural.
Truth is also the key. Why hide the deaths via euphamisms - 'coroner is investigating... no suspicious circumstances...' We have to front up to the truth otherwise we won't be able to find solutions.
There is no doubt that understanding and pride in culture can lead to higher self esteem. How do the young people feel when they see and hear the arguments in society about race, from hone to mike laws. Our people deserve to hear solutions too.
Part of the problem is talking about depression. We have all suffered depression or have a loved one that has. It is tough. To lose hope and fell hopeless is terrible. Trying to guilt someone or cajole them out of it doesn't work. Ignoring it can make it worse. About the only thing that works is talking and being there for the person. It wears supporters down though, it takes a lot of love. What else is there to do? Drugs? They just deal with the symptoms not the cause. Therapy? yes a good option. I wonder if there is any maori-style-group-conference-support style system that are used around the country?
I think we all recognise the symptoms, we're just not sure what we can do to help. Communities would be the answer here. If we talk about what is happening then people know and they can help. It doesn't have to be a hidden-away thing - we can front up to it, together. Just think about what happens now - isn't it worth considering all ideas? But many people don't have close communities near by- we battle on pretty well alone. I don't think the government can help us. It is going to have to develop from the communites we all live in.
There are many worthwhile ideas and people helping in this area, such as depression.org, and suicide prevention website. I wonder how iwi and runaka are supporting their people and interacting with the government support - I am sure there are many heroics going on. What are the answers - any ideas?