World Suicide Prevention Day

Suicide has a long-lasting and far-reaching impact on the lives of many people in New Zealand.

Every year, far too many New Zealanders die by suicide, with many more attempting suicide. This has a devastating impact on their whānau and families, friends, peers, colleagues, hapū, iwi and wider communities.

There are a range of skilled services and support available to help keep people well and build resilience, recognise and respond to distress, address risk factors associated with suicide, and to empower families, whānau and communities to support each other.

This year’s theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is 'creating hope through action'.

Creating hope through action aims to inspire confidence, that our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling.

A tool for prevention is to ‘take a minute’ to check in with someone in your community – a family member, friend, neighbour, colleague or even someone you don’t know yet – this could save a life. 

Now more than ever, we should support each other to feel safe during the uncertainty that Covid-19, and consequential impact that lockdowns and alert level changes bring.

At this time we can take the opportunity to check in with our colleagues, whānau and friends and find out how they are doing as balancing work and other responsibilities right now can be challenging.

Many people who have survived a suicide attempt say that the supportive words and actions of others made a big difference to how they felt. However, people are often scared or worried about raising the subject for many reasons, including not knowing what to say, worried they might make a situation worse, or that talking about suicide will make suicide more likely.

There are no special words or ways needed to connect with people experiencing distress.

People in distress are often not looking for specific advice, they just need to feel your support. Taking a minute to check in to see how someone is doing, listening with compassion, empathy and a lack of judgement helps.

People who are not coping will show their distress in different ways

Most people thinking about taking their own life will try to let someone know, but they often won’t say so directly. If someone shows one or more of these signs, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are suicidal, but it’s likely they need your support.

You might notice they:

  • access things they could use to hurt themselves, like a rope or gun
  • read or write about suicide online, or post photos or videos about suicide
  • become obsessed with death
  • become isolated or withdrawn from family, whānau and friends
  • don’t seem to be coping with any problems they may be having
  • tell you they want to die or kill themselves
  • have changes in mood – becoming depressed, angry or enraged
  • hurt themselves – for example, cutting skin or taking an overdose
  • feel worthless, guilty, whakamā or ashamed
  • have no hope for the future
  • use drugs or alcohol to cope with difficult feelings or thoughts
  • lose or gain a lot of weight, or have unusual eating patterns
  • sleep a lot more than usual, or stop getting enough sleep
  • seem to have lost interest in life, or things they used to enjoy
  • give away possessions, pay back debts or ’tie up loose ends’
  • stop taking their medication
  • suddenly seem calm or happy after they have been depressed or suicidal.

Some people who are suicidal might not show these signs, and some warning signs may not be obvious. People who feel suicidal might try to hide what they are going through or pretend they are okay.

If you think that someone might be at risk, pay attention to changes in their behaviour, trust your instincts and ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide.

Take a minute to notice what is going on with you, your family, your friends and your colleagues.

Take a minute to reach out and start a conversation if you notice something is different.

If you are worried about what to say the mental health foundation has a resource called Are you worried someone is thinking of suicide? “Can we talk?” Advice for families, whānau and friends(external link)

Take a minute to find out what help is available for both you and others.

Here are some of the options available:

Support services


Provides counselling, mentoring and advice for youth between the ages of 12 and 24 years.

Free call 0800 376 633

Free text 234

Youthline website(external link)

0800 What's Up

Free, nationally-available counselling helpline and webchat service for children and teenagers. Safe place to talk about anything.

Free call 0800 942 8787

What's Up webchat(external link)

Manaaki Ora app

A self-help wellbeing app to support whanau wellbeing and to know what to doif they’re concerned with someone’s mental or emotional wellbeing.

Download from google play or from the app store.

The national mental healthline for all ages. 

Call 1737

Free text 1737

Aunty Dee

A New Zealand based wellbeing tool to help people cope with stressful life experiences through support with problem solving.

Aunty Dee website(external link)


A chatbot to help young people aged 13-24 years people cope with stress. User register and communicate via Facebook Messenger

Aroha chatbot(external link)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666


Online service to support Kiwis to improve their emotional wellbeing – their hauora. Alternative to face-to-face counselling for Kiwis who are struggling.

Puāwaitanga website(external link) 





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