Warning: Distressing content
If you watch anything today, let it be this. This three-minute video depicts a New Zealand mother struggling during pregnancy and new motherhood before she takes her own life.
As the story pans out on screen, Lewis Capaldi’s song, Someone You Loved plays in the background, a perfectly fitting piece to complement the main takeaway of the campaign – Who Holds Our Mothers?
The powerful video is created by Moonshine Films in partnership with the advocacy group, Mothers Matter. Not only does it bring to light a very tragic story, but it also raises awareness of a very real situation many mothers face.
The film starts by explaining that New Zealand’s maternal suicide rates are five times higher per capita than that of the UK. This is seven times higher per capita in high-risk communities.
Below is the video which, we will warn you, can be very distressful to watch.
Who Holds Our Mothers?
The story centres around a young New Zealand woman who finds herself pregnant and alone after her abusive partner leaves her upon finding out she’s pregnant. We learn of her broken relationship with her father who has a drinking problem and watch the young woman continually push him away.
Eventually, the woman gives birth and we see her completely crumble under the pressure. In one of the hardest scenes to watch, you can see her exhausted and overwhelmed, screaming “Shut up” as her newborn cries in her arms.
But perhaps the most heartbreaking scene is when her father tries to visit her. He breaks the door to discover his crying grandson and a note from his daughter that reads, “I’m sorry”.
The camera then pans to the young mum on top of a cliff.
After the funeral, her father decides to petition for a change, joining a Mothers Matter rally and advocating for help for new mums who need it most.
The film ends with these powerful words: “We approached the government for help. They turned us away. Raise The Red Flag. Make The Government Listen.”
Stopping maternal suicide
Mothers Matter aims to “stop maternal suicide and perinatal depression”. As the video depicts, mothers need to be held too, to be protected, and cared for.
We’re hoping this campaign helps them to get this, break the cycle, and provide mothers with better maternal and perinatal care.
As Chloe Wright, the founder of Mothers Matter, explains,
The film ‐ Who Holds Our Mothers? ‐ was born out of a commitment to our nation’s future success, out of passion, frustration, and an overwhelming desire to bring recognition to the failure successive governments have demonstrated in the withdrawal of basic humanitarian care for our mothers in Aotearoa New Zealand.
This is a conversation that needs to be had out loud. Mothers Matter is committed to public transparency. Life begins in the safe harbour of a woman’s body. We the people, the Government, have a responsibility and must be held accountable in supporting our parents to nurture our future generations. Only Government can make the policy.”
Video clip leaves MPs in tears
So far the video, which was just released this week, has had a resounding impact.
New Zealand MPs, alongside health experts and mums, saw the clip for the first time in Parliament on Wednesday and were left stunned. We can understand why – this isn’t simply a made-up story. This is real life.
“The story in this film, I saw it every day,” midwife and advocate Tish told those watching the film after the screening.
About maternal suicide in New Zealand
- Every year at least 10 women are lost to maternal suicide in New Zealand.
- Many more go unreported.
- One in seven new mums suffers postnatal depression after giving birth.
- The reported rate of maternal suicide in New Zealand is five times higher per capita than that of the UK, with Māori women overrepresented.
- On average a child dies every five weeks as a result of violence in New Zealand.
What can we do to help?
- Download the Facebook graphics and profile frame.
- Pop into your local BestStart preschool and get a red flag badge to wear.
- Hang something red on your home, in your window or on your letterbox.
- Write a letter to the New Zealand MPs. They have a template to copy and paste on their website.
In Australia, if you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.