By: Melissa Nightingale

Marchers for teen suicide awareness in Wellington this morning pushed through the barriers set up at Parliament to place photos of their loved ones at the top of the steps.

They then sang a waiata as hundreds more watched and filmed.

Jami-Lee Ross spoke to the gathered marchers to applause and cheering.

He started a chant of “Jacinda Ardern we need your help”.

He said Parliament was not doing enough, and apologised for his eight years as an MP where he had not done enough himself.

“We are waiting too long … It’s too late for thousands of young people.

“I don’t want to have to come back here again and watch people crying as they’re putting their loved ones on the stairs.”

Hundreds of people travelled from across the country to meet in the capital, where they marched from the Interislander ferry terminal to Parliament.

Marchers gather in Parliament grounds this morning. Photo / Melissa Nightingale

Jay Te Whare and Harm Ormsby came from Auckland to add their voices to the mix.

They brought framed photos of their family members, Nartiz Katipa, Allen Silby and Saige Jack Kino, to the march.

“We are here doing this for our whānau here, and just, you know, just putting it out there that these kids need help, eh – direct help, not a pamphlet,” Te Whare said.

“We had no idea that there was problems with these guys, no idea.

“We just wanted to bring them back to life for the day.”

The pair came down from Auckland just for the march, in the hope the Government would take notice of what they were calling for.

Te Whare said struggling teens didn’t need a card or a referral, they needed immediate help.

Fiona McDonald and her family all wore T-shirts with her nephew’s name and photo printed on them.

Te One Aramakutu was 19, soon to turn 20, when he took his own life in Perth in 2014.

His mother had just spent six weeks with him in Perth, and saw no signs of what he was planning to do.

“We’ve had to battle with that for years,” McDonald said.

“She’s blamed herself for it because she didn’t pick it up.”

McDonald wanted to see more options for young people to seek help when they needed it, “where they can go or somebody they can talk to”.

Brookyln Te Paiho and Maia Kauika were also carrying photos of family, as well as a photo for a friend who was unable to make the march today.

One of Te Paiho’s cousins died only a couple of months ago.

Te One Aramakutu’s family came to the march wearing shirts with his name and photo printed on them. Photo / Melissa Nightingale

“They should be able to reach out to someone,” said Kauika.

Te Paiho wanted action.

“The Government should take notice of what’s happening in Aotearoa,” she said.

The marchers included a large number of patched Mongrel Mob members.

One woman addressing the crowd at Parliament noted how Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had made a public apology after the Christchurch terror attack, and after Grace Millane’s murder in Auckland.

“If she was getting up and apologising every time one of our babies died she would be on the news every night,” she said.

“Our children aren’t safe, they aren’t safe because they’re dying, and they’re dying by their own hand.”

She placed some of the blame on an education system that “labels a child a failure”.

One girl got up to speak, telling marchers suicide was not “a joke”.

“Everyone knows this, but why do kids still do it? Because we don’t get help.”

Another woman spoke about her brother committing suicide just months after his baby was born, and how that child now had to grow up without his father.

One woman who gave her name as Monica said a loved one of hers killed themselves at the age of 12.

She reminded the crowd that suicide was “a long-term solution to a short-term problem”.

Tears streamed down her face as she was questioned what was left for those left behind after suicide, and what support they could receive.

Source: NZ Herald


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