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In Crisis? Pause, get help, choose to live!

Story in support of Mental Health Awareness Week | 23 – 29 September 2019

You may have spotted a tattooed semi-colon (;) on someone’s hand or arm and wondered what it means.

Writers use a semi-colon to represent a pause that may be longer than a comma. The semi-colon has found a new use – as a symbol to represent suicide prevention.

“Why a semi-colon?” you may ask.  A story always ends in a full stop, whether it is a short or long story. The semi-colon is not an end but a longer pause and the story continues. Suicide is prevented when someone in crisis pauses, gets help and chooses to live.

The adjacent photo is of the semi-colon tattooed on the hand of Gordon Oldfield, Manager of Volunteer Nelson, and his daughter, Roxanne. Gordon says, “suicide is something that has touched my family and too many whanau in New Zealand. Roxanne and I got these tattoos last year on Father’s Day so when asked, we can talk about the importance of looking after mental health.”

Here are some contacts for getting help:


  • Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to talk to a trained counsellor. 
  • Health line 0800 611 116 
  • Youth line 0800 376 633 or free text 234
  • Alcohol Drug Helpline 0800 787 797 
  • LifeLine Aotearoa 0800 543 354 
  • Family Violence: It’s Not Okay 0800 456 450 
  • Depression Helpline 24/7 0800 111 757 
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline 24/7 0508 828 868 


  • Adult Mental Health Service 0800 776 364 
  • Alcohol & Other Drug Service 03 546 1994 
  • Te Piki Oranga (Maori provider of mental  health, alcohol and other drugs services)  0800 672 642 
  • Te Whare Mahana Golden Bay 03 525 7647 
  • Supporting Families in Mental Illness Nelson  03 546 6090 
  • COMPASS Peer Support and Advocacy for  Mental Health 0800 212 798 


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