Girls' sudden deaths spark concern

By Sam Hurley -
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Flaxmere councillor Henare O'Keefe
Flaxmere councillor Henare O'Keefe

The deaths of two teenage Flaxmere College students has prompted support from the Ministry of Education, after both girls died within a week of each other.

The ministry confirmed yesterday it was providing support to Flaxmere College in the form of a specialist team, after the sudden deaths of the girls.

Ministry of Education head of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said the ministry would continue to provide support as long as required.

"We are providing support to the school as requested and we will continue to make our specialist support teams available for as long as is needed."

One of the girls died last Monday and the other died on Saturday. It is believed no foul play is suspected.

Flaxmere councillor Henare O'Keefe said the small community of Flaxmere would be "devastated" by the sad news.

"I have not seen anything like this in Flaxmere before. It has certainly taken this community by the throat.

"It's about being there for everybody, letting everyone who is affected know that we are there for them."

He said he didn't want to talk about the specific details of the deaths but described the events as "tragic".

"It will be best for us to unite and close ranks. Flaxmere is very good at doing that - we have very good camaraderie."

He said the deaths could have been caused "by any number of things".

"It's a nationwide issue. A burden shared is a burden halved. Don't bundle it up inside - it's okay to ask for help."

He said Flaxmere College, police, Hawke's Bay District Health Board and councillors, including Flaxmere councillor Jacoby Poulain, met yesterday to discuss the deaths and ways for the community to cope.

Hastings Deputy Mayor Cynthia Bowers, who convened the meeting, said it was important to try to understand how and why the deaths occurred and ensure the community felt supported.

"Henare [O'Keefe], Jacoby [Poulain] and I met with the Ministry of Education after they and we had met with Flaxmere College yesterday, just to understand their role and what support they will give.

"It's obviously a tragedy. It's the first time I've been involved in anything like this and it's important that we offer the staff and students of Flaxmere College all the support we can give."

Attempts to reach the board and staff of Flaxmere College last night were unsuccessful.

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.

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