A couple weeks ago one of our ex students passed away. At his poroporoaki there were much tears and frustration. There was celebration of his life too, but ultimately the message from many of the rangatahi was to ask for help. To say something to someone. That you're not alone.
For too long the issue around suicide has been a taboo subject. We whisper about it, afraid to allow any copycat attempts and scared that if we bring it up - it might actually impact someone.
If we don't talk about it though - it becomes a festering sore. In New Zealand we have disgusting statistics for suicide - throughout the ages. Not just teens, not just adults, not just men or women. It's across the board.
We aren't talking about it.
There are lots more people willing to discuss mental health these days but even so - it seems it's still embarrassing to bring these issues up. We need to share these things. Be open to what is really going on in our lives and help each other through the bad times.
Farmers losing livestock, families at breaking points, teenagers who see no other way out of a bad situation.
It's so bad here in NZ that there is an International Indigenous Conference on the issue of suicide - or whakamorihi??
That conference is on today. More info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1664366957169268/?ti=cl
Every day I ask my students if they're okay. I've been doing this for as long as I can remember. It's so so critically important that they know we're there for them. That they know it's okay to ask for help.
Too often we hear these issues. Too often we are expected to pretend it didn't happen. Too often it is whispers around the motu.
If we don't speak up - and we don't talk about it - it's as if the inner turmoil that was going on in those people didn't happen. We can't just pretend.
We must do our utmost at all times to discuss these issues and check in and make sure the students and each other are okay.