On Saturday 11 May 2019 at 6:15am, hundreds of Waikato people will join up to 250,000 participants in 19 countries across 5 continents and walk 5km to help save lives in the Waikato.

“We’ve all lost mates or someone we know to suicide, and that’s got to stop,”  

…says event coordinator Craig Bulloch who vowed to bring the event to Hamilton for the first time this year. By walking from Darkness into Light, we can all play a part together in preventing suicide, by letting others know we care.  

The Darkness into Light event is symbolic of the journey from despair to hope.

An annual event organised by Pieta in Ireland, Darkness into Light has grown from humble beginnings into a global movement dedicated to ending suicide and supporting those who engage in self-harm. Pieta partners with local charities to fundraise, raise awareness and bring people together in a spirit of solidarity, comfort and hope.

Over the past year 668 New Zealanders took their own life with 10x that amount treated at the hospital or emergency department for attempting suicide. Experts estimate another 50x that number have suicidal thoughts when going through a rough time.                  

“Over 334,000 New Zealanders each year need a MATE to turn to in a time of need,”  

CEO and founder of the MATES Organisation and MATES Cafe, Kerry Babbage says. “If you can place a physical or emotional barrier between a person and suicide, you will help to save their life.” MATES Trust NZ is a registered charity CC44541

The point of suicide is the loneliest point on earth for the person contemplating ending their life. Loneliness does not discriminate, people of all ages and ethnicities are affected and thoughts of suicide can occur at any point during a person’s life.  

MATES Cafe addresses the real cause of suicide and depression by overcoming isolation and loneliness.

Thousands of crisis have been averted and many lives saved over a cuppa with a MATE MATES Cafe is a network of trained Men and Women (including Teens, Elders, LGBT+) of all cultures and ethnicity who are on call to meet with someone at their local cafe in a time of crisis or isolation and offer emotional support and encouragement. “It’s not about therapy, fixing them or giving advice but simply being with them and helping them to find new direction,” Kerry says.

“You can’t be lonely when you are with a good MATE”

“The best way to overcome loneliness and isolation is to meet with or become a MATE and be supported by people who really care about the life you are living,” Kerry says.  

Based in Hamilton and powered by volunteers, MATES have been saving lives in New Zealand for over 10 years by providing crisis support and facilitator training via MATES Café programmes.

On Saturday 11 May hundreds of Waikato people will walk 5 kms to help prevent suicide

Participants will walk a 5km loop from the Hawks Clubrooms in Grantham Street in Hamilton, along the river and across Cobham Bridge walking east into the light of dawn, then returning via the Anzac Parade bridge.  

Funds raised will help facilitate MATES Café meetings to empower our community and prevent the isolation and loneliness which leads to rash decisions such as suicide and relationship violence. Having a good MATE in your life will boost your self-esteem, increase the quality and length of your life, promote good health and make your life more enjoyable. The sad thing is that our youth and our elders experience the highest level of loneliness. No-one should have no-one!

We are calling out to the Waikato community to help MATES save lives through the MATES Cafe programme in any of the following ways:

  1. Businesses may wish to contribute financially through donations, spot prizes for participants or sponsor their employees to attend the Darkness into Light event

  2. Spreading the word and encouraging as many people as possible to participate for this worthy cause or even volunteering to help make this event a great success

  3. Apply to become a MATES Cafe facilitator and be there for someone in need to help them make better choices (and avert further despair and tragedy)

To register for the event, meet with a MATE for support, or apply to become a MATE please go to: www.mates.org.nz - Registration fee includes a t-shirt while stocks last.

Event coordinator: Craig Bulloch  0272 899 951 hamilton@darknessintolight.ie  

Media contact: Kerry Babbage (MATES Founder / CEO) 027 258 3274 info@mates.org.nz