A strong agreement across the Tauiwi Youth stated that “The Methodist Church of New Zealand are NOT doing anything in regards to Suicide Prevention and education”. The Tauiwi youth feel that most often the subject is ‘taboo’ and ‘awkward’ when discussed, especially in front of leadership groups or elders and is often ignored to prevent such situations. Tauiwi Youth has a strong sense of obligation to this issue because it affects them directly, most having had experienced someone close to them who may have tried to take their life or have died as a means of suicide. “It feels like the Church (MCNZ) does not care about them as a whole, mental health and wellbeing of an individual.”
Tauiwi youth have disclosed that these Influence sessions led by LeVa, were the “first real conversations around youth suicide as a part of a church gathering type thing.” It not only raised awareness but it challenged youth to break down stigmas and ‘awkward’ feelings when it comes to talking about suicide and identifying those at risk. The young people of Tauiwi feel that if Mental Health in general was discussed more in Church and cultural settings, we would be able to work towards tackling issues like suicide amongst our young people. Being able to get our Matua, elders on board would be a “major game changer” in raising awareness for suicide prevention and education in both Church and Cultural Context. “We need to learn to accept Suicide as a problem, not a sin.” Our youth strongly believe that by talking about Mental health and Suicide prevention openly, in a safe and respectful manner, will help breakdown these stigmas and normalise these conversations on a Church wide scale.
“You don’t need all the money or resources – you simply need to show us you care… Start simply with – Are you ok?” We often find ourselves trapped in a space unable to express our true feelings because our Culture expects us to behave and act in a certain way. Or are in positions that dictate how you speak, how you walk and dress, never asking the true and meaningful questions like, how are you today or are you ok?
The Tauiwi Youth of the Methodist Church of New Zealand would like to see more awareness in the Church when is comes to Suicide prevention and Mental Health in general. This issue is “SO REAL” for our youth that we would like to be part of a movement that will allow safe and respectful places for youth and other members of the wider Church to discuss ways of decreasing suicide rates. We would like more Influence Sessions that teach individuals and communities on how to identify those who are at risk and how we as a church community can help these individuals seek the right help they need. “Sometimes there’s more to it than just praying for that individual to NOT take their own life”.
“Being vulnerable does not make us weak. We just need the support, or to know that you GENUINELY care”.