Wellington Scoop

600 pairs of shoes at Parliament will mark Suicide Prevention Day

News from YesWeCare.nz.
606 pairs of shoes, each representing a New Zealander lost to suicide in the last year, will arrive at Parliament this Sunday at 11am.

Sunday is World Suicide Prevention Day and the final day of a YesWeCare.nz nationwide suicide prevention roadshow which began in Bluff and Cape Reinga on August 26.

The shoes arrive in Nelson and Whanganui at noon today, Blenheim and Paraparaumu tomorrow, with a final event in Levin on Saturday from 9am.

YesWeCare.nz coordinator Simon Oosterman says bereaved families have spoken about loss and their hope for change at each event, while holding their loved-ones shoes.

“When we first spoke with bereaved families about this project we said the roadshow would be worth doing if we saved just one life,” he says. “We’ve been deeply touched by the unexpected outpouring of support and the readiness of Kiwi’s to embrace a message of hope that suicide is preventable and change is possible.”

Oosterman says two clear messages have surfaced at each event:

“We need to ask our family, friends and workmates if they are ok more and we need to ensure mental health services are there to support us when we ask for help,” he says.

Oosterman says the Levin shoe project, the last before Parliament, is an example of how the events have empowered bereaved families to speak out and “be in the driver seat of change”.

“Just five months ago, seventeen year-old student Jamie Lynn lost her 32 year-old brother in law Philip Shanks to suicide,” he says. “She’s turned her personal loss into a project of hope, organising her principal, fellow students and community to collect shoes and come together to show the power of community solidarity.”

Mrs Lynn will join bereaved families from more than twenty towns across the country at the Wellington event, Oosterman says.

He says the media have played an essential role in raising awareness and building momentum with daily local coverage and international features including The Guardian, BBC and TRT World.

Social media has played an important role with a small video from the Greymouth event (https://www.facebook.com/brent.nicoll/posts/10210361360016557) going viral with 120,000 views this morning.

World Suicide Prevention Day events will occur across New Zealand, including shoe events in Dunedin, Palmerston North, Kerikeri.

On Monday 11 September, the first day of advanced voting, families will meet politicians face-to-face in an event open to media to talk about the change they want to see, Oosterman says.

Bereaved families election pledges

Bereaved families have asked politicians to “put politics aside and do what is right for everyone” and to commit to six pledges:

• Hold a mental health inquiry
• Restore $2.3b in health funding
• Set a suicide reduction target
• Increase primary health and GP funding (early intervention)
• Commit to safe staffing
• Make every home healthy

Every major party has responded except National and Act who have been given until Sunday to respond. All parties have been invited to attend the Sunday and Monday events.


• 7 September – Wanganui 606 shoes, park opposite War Memorial Steps, 11am setup, 12 noon media, 1pm packdown.
• 7 September – Nelson 606 shoes, Church Steps, 11am setup, 12 noon media, 1pmpackdown.
• 8 September – Kapiti Coast 606 shoes, Paraparaumu Beach, opposite 32 Marine Parade,11am setup, 12 noon media, 1pm packdown.
• 8 September – Blenheim 606 shoes, Stadium 2000, 11am setup, 12 noon media
• 9 September – Levin 606 shoes, Te Takere, 11am setup, 12 noon media, 1pm packdown.
• 10 September – Parliament grounds World Suicide Prevention Day 606 shoes, 11amsetup, 12 noon, 1pm pack down, 2pm setup at Cenotaph with shoes and candles, 5pm Candles setup, 6pm Candles at sun down, 8pm packdown.
• 10 September – Kerikeri World Suicide Prevention Day 606 shoes, venue and time to be confirmed
• 10 September – Palmerston North clock tower World Suicide Prevention Day 606 shoes and candles, 5pm – 7pm, 606 shoes and candles.
• 10 September – St Paul’s Catherdral, Dunedin World Suicide Prevention Day 606 shoesand candles from 6pm – 8pm.
• 11 September – Wellington, St Andrews on the Terrace, Bereaved and Politicians Face-to-Face, 9am setup, 10am Bereaved speak, 1030 Politicians Speak, 11am Q&A, 11:30am tea and coffee, noon close.

606 shoes at Parliament, 10 September World Suicide Prevention Day

• 1100 – Setup shoes
• 1200 – Welcome and blessing
• 1205 – Bereaved speak
• 1230 – Open microphone for other bereaved
• 1300 – Pack down at Parliament
• 1400 – Setup at Cenotaph
• 1700 – Setup candles
• 1800 – Candles lit
• 2000 – Pack down

Bereaved and politicians face-to-face, Monday 11 September, first day of advanced voting

• 09:30 – Setup
• 10:00 – Welcome
• 10:05 – Bereaved families speak
• 10:30 – Politicians speak
• 11:00 – Questions and Answers from families and media
• 11:30 – Tea and coffee
• 12:00 – Close
• 12:00 onwards – Some bereaved families will attend party announcements around Mental Health, Wellness and Suicide Prevention.
• 14:00 – Some bereaved families will cast their advanced votes together, location TBC