Suicide awareness fundraiser at gym

The Mates Matter Charitable Trust founder Craig Bulloch is holding a fundraiser in Cambridge on April 17 to fund suicide prevention programmes at Cambridge Community House.

‘The 654 Challenge’, named for the 654 people who took their own lives in New Zealand last year, is being done in conjunction with Studio Move Cambridge.  Craig wanted to hold the fundraiser here because of the town’s “great community focus” and because he will run his suicide prevention and mental wellness training programmes through Cambridge Community House.

Craig set up Mates Matter earlier this year to promote mental wellness and combat suicide.  He has partnered with A-OK.NZ, the national provider of suicide prevention training, and will eventually deliver similar programmes throughout Waikato.

Craig grew up in the region and has fought his own battles against depression and mental illness.  He turned to alcohol and food to escape his inner demons until eventually, weighed down with a crippling sense of failure and certain he was a burden, he attempted suicide.

“My story is very common,” he said.  “We have a huge problem here. Waikato is the third worst area in the country for suicide, after Canterbury and Gisborne.  Of the 654 people who suicided nationally last year, 62 were in the Waikato.  The biggest reason for us is that the construction industry has a high rate of suicide.  An Australian-based ‘Mates in Construction’ programme is now in New Zealand … it delivers programmes that encourage people in the industry to talk about their concerns and seek help.

“A lot of New Zealand men have this ‘take a concrete pill’, or ‘harden up’ approach to things. You wouldn’t say ‘harden up’ to someone with a broken leg, why say it to someone battling mental illness?”

Cambridge’s Studio Move is jointly owned by mum and daughter team, Tania and Shiana McKay. Tania spotted Craig’s Mates Matter NZ post online, and immediately contacted him. “This was something I wanted to support.  Both Shiana and I know people who have been affected by suicide. The reality is most people know someone who has been touched by it. We wanted to do something to help.”

They have offered their local gym premises to Craig for the fundraising challenge.

There will be 10 stations laid out on the day. People can choose to participate either individually or in teams, working out for 654 seconds (just over 10 minutes), as many times as they like.

“It’s all about getting mates together,” said Craig.  “This event is about letting people know what we want to do and start the programmes here. People are starting to talk more openly about mental health now, but we need to learn how to pick up on cues and know where to direct concerns if someone says they are not OK.”

The 654 Challenge will run from 8am to 12 noon on Saturday April 17, at Studio Move, 23c Albert St, Cambridge.   An ‘endurance hour’ is being run from 8am-9am, and from 11am to  noon. Entry is $15 per person, or $100 for a team of 10, with all funds going to Mates Matter NZ. Also supporting the event is Body Performance Clinic and Shots Coffee Cart.

For more details go to the Mates Matter Charitable Trust Facebook page, or email Craig at

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