I attended the Addiction Leadership 2018 hosted by Matua Raki in Parliament recently. It was good to see many of our Prevention and Minimising Gambling Harm Sector amongst the packed venue.
For me, there was one poignant moment of the day in which a woman who leads a community programme helping youth read an emotional letter from a young boy who had committed suicide. It was heart-wrenching to listen to this boy’s last words to the world. He expressed how his addiction has hurt many people and that he can’t go on being such a screw-up. The hatred he felt towards himself for his addiction and how he just could not stop using, falling back into the addiction cycle again.
Her final words after reading his letter were ‘he literally signed out. If that response from young people when they cant get help from adults and services when they try to reach out for help, then we are in big trouble.’
Her powerful final words reverberated through every person in the room. This made me reflect that we need to do more; we need to stop and listen, we need to put ourselves in their shoes to fully comprehend what people with mental health and addictions are experiencing without judgment but with compassion.