Darkness into Light Darkness into Light CREDIT: MATES Organisation
MATES Cafe logo MATES Cafe logo CREDIT: MATES Organisation

The Answer to Suicide Prevention Lies within the Community

Tuesday 7 May 2019, 11:12AM
By MATES Organisation

HAMILTON, New Zealand
7 May 2019

Hundreds of New Zealanders will lead a 5km walk for the world-wide Darkness into Light event with over 250,000 participants across 5 continents on Saturday 11 May 2019 at 6:15am to help save lives. MATES Cafe is the charity partner for the Auckland and Hamilton events with over 500 registered participants and will be doing a Nationwide call-out for MATES Cafe Facilitators.

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.

MATES Cafe is a network of trained facilitators; Men and Women (including Teens, Elders, LGBT+) of all cultures and ethnicity who are able to meet with a person at their local cafe in a time of crisis and offer emotional support and encouragement.

The journey of life has taken us through many ups and downs, yet somehow, we have been able to pull through the tough times and pick ourselves up when we have been knocked down. We know how important it is to have a MATE to lean on and be there for us, when undergoing life challenges or crisis situations.

“If you can place a physical or emotional barrier between a person and suicide, you will help to save their life,” says Kerry Babbage, Founder/CEO of the MATES Organisation and MATES Cafe.

MATES Cafe are training everyday people in our communities across New Zealand to be MATES. Helping them to empower their own lives to a place of strength, so they can be there for others in need of support.

MATES Cafe will have a powerful effect on your life and the lives of those around you. It will help you to take charge of your emotions and thinking, which until now have been sabotaging your happiness. Leading to better relationships, greater communication, enhanced leadership skills and the opportunity of being there for someone in need. It is from this place that you can best help others.

“How many of us have ever felt isolated or lonely to the degree that we have questioned whether life is worth living?” says Kerry Babbage. “The sad reality is that every two minutes, a New Zealander experiences this same traumatic feeling. That’s over 300,000 people each year questioning their reason for living because they are feeling sad, isolated and alone. Many of these people hurt themselves to the degree of hospitalisation or even taking their own life.”

The MATES journey started many years ago when at the first meeting, a man bravely faced his vulnerability and shared that this was his last chance at life. He had a noose waiting for him at home in his garage and this meeting could have been his excuse to go through with it. Instead, the MATES meeting saved his life, by giving him new direction and hope toward a new future.

For the next 15 years, Kerry focused his life on how to do the MATES Programme better. Being there for many more people in need and to help overcome this sometimes-self-imposed isolation that causes so much suffering; and this is how MATES Cafe came into being. You simply cannot be alone when you have a MATE to lean on.

“Many times, our obstacles seem too hard for one person to overcome, and just maybe they are, so we can learn that we are stronger together,” says Kerry.

MATES Cafe is about Being the Change. MATES have all been through life's journeys, the ups and downs, pulled through the tough times and know how important it is to have a MATE to lean on and be there for them, when undergoing life challenges or crisis situations.

Life events such as loss, grief, and relationship breakdown can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. This form of mental distress can attribute to family violence, depression and suicide.

The MATES Cafe grass-roots movement provides effective community intervention by helping to eliminate the isolation and loneliness experienced by people going through challenging times.

MATES Cafe Facilitators are trained to be on call for someone in need. To sit down with them in a local cafe for an hour, being a good MATE and helping them through a point of crisis in their life. Not about therapy, fixing them or giving advice but simply being there, really hearing them and helping them to find new direction.

MATES Cafe Facilitators are the life-blood of the organisation. It is therefore MATES role to empower their facilitators toward a healthy, happy and fulfilling life. MATES Cafe is about being the change, facilitators are trained to empower their own lives, so they can be there for others in a time of need.

Nationwide, MATES Cafe are looking for people who have been through the hard times, been knocked down and who have picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and started walking their path again. It might have been relationship breakdown, loss and grief, depression, drugs or alcohol, gambling, or some other challenge... yet one thing is deeply etched into your heart... you would not like another human being to experience that same level of pain, without having support and encouragement.


To register for the event, meet with a MATE for support, or apply to become a MATE please go to:

Media contact: Kerry Babbage - 0272583274
DIL Auckland Event coordinator: Emma Horgan
DIL Hamilton Event coordinator: Craig Bulloch