Rugby players touched by suicide pitch in at Taranaki retreat 05 September 2017

Source: Taranaki Daily News

Taranaki rugby player Angus Ta'avao lost a relative to suicide so he was happy to roll up his sleeves  to help out at the Taranaki Retreat this week.

On Tuesday Ta'avao and members of the Port Taranaki Bulls were put to work at the suicide prevention refuge, moving stones, filling sand bags, building a compost bin, installing night lights and doing a number of other odd jobs.

The retreat has been open for six months and was established by Jamie Allen, the former Dean of the Taranaki Cathedral, and his wife Suzy.

Ta'avao said letting people know there was somebody to talk to and they were not alone was one of the biggest ways someone could help.

"One week they'll be alright and the next week they could be gone," he said.


"It's just about spreading awareness, until somebody has lost someone close to them sometimes they don't know where to turn to for help."

Hooker Ricky Riccitelli described the initiative as awesome.

"Obviously suicide is a big part of modern society," the front-rower, who had a friend whose father took his own life, said.

"The biggest thing is don't be afraid to ask for help."

Sean Wainui, centre, said he was happy to lend a hand at the retreat.

"It's good that we can come here and help make this place a better place for those in need," he said.

Wainui said while rugby players could traditionally be seen as a hard bunch who didn't often talk about their struggles the Taranaki team had a good culture where they could open up to each other.

Allen said it had been "quite a ride" since the retreat opened in March and it was brilliant to have the Taranaki rugby players involved.

"It's been humbling, challenging, terrifying, hopeful and moving watching the vision develop and grow which allows us to understand more and more what we are here for."

He said the facility was fielding about 100 fresh inquiries a month from people in need.