Suicide, aren’t you sick of it? by Kiwa Huata

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According to the Ministry of Health the Maori suicide rate in 2007 was 16.1 per 100,000 while the non-Maori rate was 9.9 per 100,000. Males from the most deprived areas were three times more likely to be hospitalised than those in the least deprived areas, while females from the most deprived areas were almost twice as likely to be hospitalised as those in the least deprived areas.

New Zealand has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the developed world, with Maori suicide rate 54% higher than non-Maori.

The topic is rarely discussed within whanau and communities. There are many causes of suicide but for Maori bullying in the broadest sense begins with the colonial bullying evidenced by raupatu, stolen land, forced land sales, unfair and unequal treatment and today through institutionalised racism.

Aspects of that colonial bullying persist through to the present day and contribute to economic deprivation caused by the historic asset stripping and also contribute to the cultural alienation many Maori experience through the devastation done to our language and our customs by policies of the Crown. This high level bullying by the Crown on behalf of Pakeha is made worse by the ever present threat to young Maori of bullying on an intimate personal level.

During my years in high school I would see children bully or be bullied by other children. There was no such thing as an iPad; no one had a phone until their 17th birthday; Facebook had yet to arrive on to New Zealand networks; and wearing gumboots and ragged jeans was part of the norm on mufti day. No less than 10 years ago you were only bullied in schools. Today, with the ability to access someones entire life through Facebook, Twitter, phones and iPads, bullies now have a 24 hour access to their victims. It is far easier than it has ever been before to physically and mentally bully another; even if theyre on opposite ends of the country. Some go as far as even instructing their victims on how to self-mutilate.

With freedom comes responsibility. However, this generation was not prepared to see such freedom get to the point that it is anywhere with a connection. The power of the technology and globalization is becoming increasingly overwhelming. That is why I believe we are at our most dangerous point in our history. Rather than another race abusing Maoridom, we are doing it to ourselves. How did we get to this point?

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 6.13.57 AMThis is only one of many causes which must be addressed immediately. We as Maori have been reluctant to discuss such a horrendous topic (and many other important Maori related issues on that matter) for decades now. For starters, how do you explain to someone else about these dark thoughts youre having? Of course it is frightening for most to open up and be concerned what others would think about them. The last thing a child needs is to be further judged by their whanau and peers.

Maori youth arent the only group with a dramatic suicide statistic; with the increase in elderly age group (50-74 years), unemployed people and students committing suicides in New Zealand each year, the general rate has averaged around 500 each year.

Children are the innocent ones in all of this. Not only do our rangatahi have to deal with the pressures at home, but often they can be blamed for the poor choices made by their parents and others. While these parents are unable to afford even the basic essentials, children find solitude through abuse; whether thats in drugs, alcohol or bullying. Students drop out of high school to work full time at the pack-house, girls are hapu by 16; unable to get a decent job because they didnt receive efficient qualifications, only adding to this cycle we as Tangata whenua have been stuck in for decades now.

There are many causes for suicide. I havent been to that dark corner where my life was completely shattered in to a million pieces that I was unaware of the light. I dont have to have experienced what happened to those who are in that state of despair in order to reach out; I dont have all the answers to suicide prevention, But I know that I dont want to keep hearing that theres another kid thats gone and hung himself. Arent you sick of it?

I was once asked, does anyone have the right to commit suicide? My immediate answer, Absolutely not. You are someones child, someones friend, and relative. You are a child of God; you are a part of somebodys life. Therefore you have no right to take that away from someone else.

Educating rangatahi on how to deal with racism by the Crown, by their institutions and by average Joe Bloggs is important. And preparing children to deal with negative relationships both internally and externally must be a priority for each whanau, school and community. Utilize the knowledge of our tuupuna to educate our children; recapture our reo and tikanga so they will feel whole and never question their ability to stand proud as a Maori!

 

If you require advice, help or support, please call the following numbers.

Reception & Lifeline Counselling Bookings:(09) 909 8750

Lifeline 24/7 Helpline:(09) 5 222 999

Kidsline:0800 KIDSLINE (0800 543 754)

Chinese Lifeline:0800 888 880
(09) 522 2088

Gambling Helpline:0800 654 655

Suicide Prevention Helpline:0508 TAUTOKO (0508 828 865)

2 COMMENTS

  1. Kia ora ! the Maori count of persons Pak?ha & ethinc groups will contiue to rise,
    when a person has a drop of Maori blood & is trouble with the law or in sikness or whatever that person get the ” Maori ” lable But ! if he or she become famous a N Z icon
    is said to be ” affiliated ” to so & so iwi , ‘ Kia mau te rangim?ri? “

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