In bright yellow clothing, in the pouring rain, they set off on their walk.
There were a few smiles, but no cheering. The mood was eerie, as if many were lost deep in their own thoughts.
Chris, who was one of more than 300 people who walked around Lake Rotoroa in Hamilton on Saturday to raise awareness on suicide and promote suicide prevention, said she was thinking of her children.
Her ex-husband, the father of her son and daughter, committed suicide in 2012. Just like his father did, and two of his uncles, and a brother.
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Chris, who did not want to use her last name, has seen the effect it has had on her adult children.
“I see my kids really struggling at times. Their father should be here with them, and they’re wondering why he’s not.
“I see how they cope with it, trying to understand what happened and how they will never know why.
“There’s lots of things he has missed out on and no one knew he was suffering from depression.”
People wore T-shirts with a picture of their loved one lost to suicide, others had their family name proudly displayed on their backs.
Some T-shirts had messages – “you are not alone”, “you are loved”, “stay strong” and “the best is yet to come”.
Thomas O’Leary said you must find hope.
He lost his uncle to suicide.
“You need to talk to somebody, anybody. You need to find something, whether it be religion, a close family friend, or a sporting club. Whether it be a walk around the lake every Saturday – find hope,” O’Leary said.
“To get to the point of suicide, you might think that’s the only solution, you don’t want to endure this anymore. But it’s so damn final. There’s no redemption from it. Please, please don’t do it.”
While O’Leary is yet to watch the Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why, he said the fact suicide is being highlighted is a good thing.
“When you’re talking about mental health and subsequent suicide, any publicity is good publicity. If people are talking about it, the fact that it exists, the fact that it is of concern and an impact on the community, is a good thing.”
O’Leary hopes to bring the Hope Walk to his town, Rotorua.
“As we were walking today, we all know what links us. It’s solidarity here. We’ve all experienced a depth of pain by losing someone to suicide. There’s a puzzlement that no one should experience.
“It was really important that we came across. Even if it rained twice as heavy as this, we had to come.”
WHERE TO GET HELP:
Lifeline: 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email email@example.com
What’s Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children’s helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)
Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)
Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254
Healthline: 0800 611 116
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.