It is encouraging to see Coroner Wallace Bain take action over the ongoing failure of mental health support systems in relation to the death of two young Tauranga men.

Mr Bain last week expressed his frustration by referring the deaths of the two men who took their own lives to the Law Commission.

The coroner, in his findings into the deaths of 18-year-old Brendan Russell and 30-year-old Brad Milne, said the cases raised harrowing issues of people suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts and having difficulty getting appropriate help.

He especially hit out over the death of married father Mr Milne - an "exceptional human being ... an exceptional and proud father".


The young man recognised his battles with depression and tried his best to research and get help for himself but struggled to find a way through.

Mr Russell's death raised concerns for his family and the coroner over the support systems in place for young people.

The Tauranga Boys' College student had become depressed after injuring his leg playing rugby and breaking up with his girlfriend. In the week leading up to his August 2012 death, he sent a text message saying he was going to harm himself.

Mr Bain says the case highlights how difficult it is for a young person to know what to do and where to go when a friend or associate is clearly indicating self-harm and/or suicidal thoughts by way of texting and the cyber media.

Earlier this year The Bay of Plenty Times reported that 541 Kiwis committed suicide in the last year. That was six fewer than the previous year, but still the average has remained stubbornly stable since 2007.

New Zealand ranks mid-range against other OECD countries for male suicides, but in the top third for females. Youth suicide rates also rank highly, with males fourth highest and females second highest in the developed world.

The statistics are alarming especially when you consider the impact on the devastated families left behind.

Coroner Bain hopes referring the cases to the Law Commission will reinforce the need for proper support systems in and around people who are feeling suicidal and their loved ones. It could make all the difference.