Shining a light on depression and suicide in Waikato’s rural community –

Posted: October 2, 2019 at 4:42 am

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Shining Light on the Dark Matamata-Piako organisers Amber McGrail and Briarley Stephens.

Phrases like "harden up" and "take a concrete pill" aren't welcomeat amental health awareness event next month.

Matamata localAmberMcGrail, with the help ofBriarley Stephens, Melissa Martin and Kat Ross haveestablished an non-for-profit organisation in Matamata-Piakoto support rural folk "trudging through the mud" of anxiety, depression andsuicide.

Shining Light on the Dark originally started on the West Coast after the suicideof a Hokitikarugby club member in 2017. The initiative has since branched out to South Waikato and now Matamata-Piako.

"I attended theSouth Waikato event last year in memory of mybest friend who committedsuicidealmost 11 years ago, and instantly felt inspired to create something similar," McGrail said.

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"It's a real different grief [losing someone to suicide]it affected me and it still does. I think about all the things he's missed out on."

On top of the death of her best friend, McGrail, a mother of three,has also suffered from severe anxiety after experiencing a stillbirth when she was 21 andseveral miscarriages.

"When it [anxiety] starts coming you often don't know what it is, when I first started gettinganxiety I was like what the hell is this. I thought I was a looney!

"It wasn't until someone told me...whenthey said that's anxiety, it all started to piece together."


Amber McGrail and Briarley Stephens have both lost loved ones to suicide.

Stephens said support is also more important than ever in the rural community with more farmers struggling with mental health.

"Ruralsuicideand mental health is quite massive. There's the attitude of harden up and take a concrete pill, with men especially, but it's not that easy," Stephens said.

"Around 680 people inNew Zealand lost their lives to suicide in the last year.

"We don't know how many of those are in the district, but we know ourselves quite a few people who have lost their lives to suicide and we felt like now was the time for us to help the community out."

Shining Light on the Dark gumboot fun run will be on November 1 at 5.30pm at Bedford Park in Matamata.

There will be an obstacle course to weave around and the first lap will be a non-silence lap- where everyone canmake as much noise as they want.

There will also be food stalls, performancesand the event will be hosted bycomedianTom Sainsbury.

"We will also have service providers coming around to talk to people about mental health and maybe give people tips on where they can go from there for support," Stephens said.

"Any money we raise will go towards this event, we're not doing it as a fundraiser.But any surplusmoney we are hoping to inject into the community hopefully by way of a support group."

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Shining a light on depression and suicide in Waikato's rural community -

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October 2nd, 2019 at 4:42 am

Posted in Mental Attitude