Gang member's anguish at spate of suspected suicides

Warning: This story discusses suicide.

A Hawke's Bay gang member has shared his anguish after another suspected suicide within his community.

Black Power member Denis O'Reilly's friend Petera Smith died in hospital early this morning, after some time on life support.

O'Reilly wrote in an opinion piece for Hawke's Bay Today it was a heartbreaking loss.

"Another fine young Māori man left us, maumau tangata ki te po.

"We all stand bereft, dazed, like parents and whānau nationwide in similar circumstances, asking ourselves how we could better have responded to his dilemma?"

O'Reilly told Hawke's Bay Today Smith's death is one of nine sudden deaths in five months within the Hawke's Bay gang community, and he believes the majority of them are due to suicide. 

New Zealand's provisional suicide statistics rose again this year, going from 668 in 2017/18 to 685 in 2018/19.

Advocates and experts are calling on the Government to implement a plan to turn the tide around and implement a new suicide prevention plan. The last one expired in 2016.

"They'll have a suicide prevention plan that is overdue and the authorities need to recognise the urgency of the matter. This needs to be a top priority," Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust Chair Corinda Taylor told Newshub.

Health Minister David Clark said a new plan will be released within the coming weeks, but he can't guarantee a quick fix.

"We make no apology for tackling the long term challenge that we have inherited."

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