“Hearing what those first to the scene of a suicide face. You could have heard a pin drop,” explained Kia Piki te Ora – Suicide Prevention worker Alana Flavell during ‘Choose Life,’ a three-day programme held during Mental Health Awareness Week.
The course was based around what rangatahi (teenagers) wanted to learn about building resilience to overcome life’s challenges, being future focused, and suicide prevention.
A follow on from the ‘E Tū Rangatahi’ programme, ‘Choose Life’ participants aged 16 and over from five Napier and Hastings-based secondary schools and training establishments attended. The tikanga Māori framework provided a safe, inclusive sharing environment for all – speakers and attendees.
Speakers such as Miss Universe NZ 2017 Harlem-Cruz Ihaia, shared how they have dealt with life’s adversities, drama and stress. Experts in drugs, mental health and emergency professionals shared their knowledge, thoughts and experiences. A session with pakeke (elderly) was the highlight for facilitator, Kia Piki te Ora – Suicide
Prevention Coordinator Faryn Ngawaka. “The rangatahi formulated questions to ask kuia and koroua of our Kahui Pakeke group about how they’ve coped with life’s ups and downs. Both young and old got something meaningful from the conversation and intend to get together again soon.”
These sessions were all supported by brainstorming and strategizing from the group. Action plans, effective communication, dealing with dramas, recognising when others are struggling and knowing who to ask or where to go for help were all covered. Feedback and reviews from participants have exceeded both Alana and Faryn’s expectations. “It was amazing to see what they already knew and what they wanted to know more about,” said Alana, “plus how interested and engaged they were the whole way through,” added Faryn.