Rural call for help on youth suicide

By Amanda Snow

Five young people have died in the remote Taupo Bay area.
Five young people have died in the remote Taupo Bay area.

A Far North community grappling with a cluster of youth deaths says the Government isn't doing enough to prevent youth suicide.

Last week, the Herald on Sunday reported that the Taupo Bay area had been stunned by the deaths of at least five young people, including three from one family.

The death of a 10-year-old boy late last year sparked a call for action - but dismayed locals say nothing has changed.

And last month 15-year-old Abigale-Rose Barnard was found dead in the fifth such fatality.

Abigale-Rose Barnard.
Abigale-Rose Barnard.

One woman who knew the 10-year-old wrote to Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia and National MP Mike Sabin after his death and this week to Labour MP Shane Jones.

"I don't want to see another ambulance arriving in our community to take away the body of yet another child," she said. "Enough is enough. This has to be a cross-party issue. Children don't care about politics."

This week Prime Minister John Key said a $62million mental health project started in April last year was helping thousands of young people to get support services.

But the Taupo Bay resident said the project "grossly underestimates" the problem and most at-risk children were missing out.

NZ First deputy leader Tracey Martin agreed. "There is an urgent need for appropriately trained crisis teams to be on call and to provide support for these communities."

Another Taupo Bay local, who asked to not be named for fear of reprisals, said adults in the area should shoulder some responsibility. "There are homes where, by 11 in the morning, the males are mostly boozed and by the afternoon they are high on cannabis. The kids live an appalling life."

Northland Regional Council member Dover Samuels said there had also been deaths in his nearby community of Matauri Bay.

"A lot of it is happening in rural, isolated areas," he said. "There's no support, there's no funding. We have to ask ourselves, 'Are we really serious about bringing down the sad statistics of youth suicide'?"

He said people were asking what they could have done, "and it emerges there were signs, but the families either didn't see it, or weren't interested."

Ngapuhi leader Rudy Taylor, who lost a young niece, said some young people in the North had become increasingly isolated. "They closed the bus services, the post offices and some schools ... There's no jobs, no buses, no shops."


Where to get help

Youth services: (06) 3555 906

Youthline: 0800 376 633

Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm to 6pm weekdays)

Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (noon to midnight)

The Word

Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (24-hour service)

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

CASPER Suicide Prevention

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

- Herald on Sunday

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