Suicide shoes step closer to Parliament

  • 08/09/2017

A row of 606 pairs of shoes is making its way to Parliament in a bid to draw attention to New Zealand's suicide rates.

Each pair marks one person who died from suicide in the country over the past year and will be lined up outside the parliament in Wellington on Sunday to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.

The footwear has been making its way around the country, reaching Nelson and Whanganui on Thursday, and is due to arrive at Blenheim and Paraparaumu on Friday, and Levin the following day.

YesWeCare.nz coordinator Simon Oosterman said families had spoken about their loss at the various locations, while holding their loved ones' shoes.

"We've been deeply touched by the unexpected outpouring of support and the readiness of Kiwis to embrace a message of hope that suicide is preventable and change is possible," he said.

Sunday is also the final day of the group's nationwide suicide prevention roadshow which began in Bluff and Cape Reinga on August 26.

Families from about 20 towns around the country are expecting to arrive for the event at parliament.

Just five months ago, seventeen year-old student Jamie Lynn lost her 32 year-old brother in law Philip Shanks to suicide," Mr Oosterman said.

"She's turned her personal loss into a project of hope, organising her principal, fellow students and community to collect shoes and come together to show the power of community solidarity."

The families are calling for the Government to hold a mental health inquiry and set a suicide reduction target. New Zealand has the second-worst suicide rate among people aged 25 and under in the OECD.

The teen suicide rate - officially those aged 15 to 19 - is the worst.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline's 24-hour telephone counselling service on 0800 543 354, or the Suicide Crisis Helpline (aimed at those in distress, or those who are concerned about the wellbeing of someone else) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO).

NZN