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Sau Loto – Off the Couch is going Off the Hook

Off the Couch Trust, based in Manakau, received funding through Le Va’s Pasifika Suicide Prevention Community Fund for its initiative Sau Loto. For the Trust’s CE Buck Stowers, the initiative means people can be ‘free’ from suicide by incorporating exercise, life coaching, trusted mentoring and nurturing family relationships, which build individual resilience and stronger Pasifika families and communities.

The programme is based in Genetics Gym Manukau, owned by Buck and his wife Lucretia, which is well known in the South Auckland area for its successful ‘Big boys/Big girls’ programme.

Sau Loto was developed and focused on 12 participants over a period of three months. The group committed and were supported by another household member to attend regular exercise and wellbeing sessions multiple times a week.

During the wellbeing sessions, participants talked about suicide prevention including warning signs and triggers to low mood, and protective factors for them as a group and as individuals. Each person also received one-on-one coaching allowing them to explore core values and mapping emotional regulation.   

Those who took part in Sau Loto knew of Buck and Lucretia’s work in the community, and also about Genetics Gym. Many others were engaged to sign up to the programme through their family and friends, who felt they would benefit from a comprehensive approach.

One participant said,

I’m here for my son. If you know him well, you will know he’s larger than life, loud and happy. But when he is sad he thinks of suicide.”

12 participants completed the programme, with strong results including feeling more resilient and positive, having an enhanced mood and confidence levels, and strengthened relationships with families and friends.

Another participant said,

Sau Loto has given me the strength and courage to get through each day [and through the programme] I can testify that my mental and physical aspect is now catching up with my (positive) spiritual wellbeing.”

Another said,

“I have come out of my shell a little bit, and learnt to work on my trust issues. What the programme taught me is to think about what’s important and not to over think things that are not important… and that exercise can help with my emotions.” 

About the author •
Yvonne is a Senior Project Co-ordinator for Le Va, primarily working on the FLO: Pasifika for life suicide prevention programme. She’s also a registered nurse with over 20 years’ experience specialising in various areas such as sexual/reproductive health, adolescent health and nurse-led clinics.