A teenager's death has spurred Whangarei's mayor Sheryl Mai to make a public plea to anyone considering suicide.

Ms Mai went on social media on Monday night to plead with youngsters not to take the step to end their lives.

There have been at least three suspected suicides by young people in Whangarei in four days.

The three have included a 13-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl.


Ms Mai said she was compelled to go public after being told about the girl's death by the family and young people who knew her.

"It just makes me incredibly sad [she] decided there was no hope for her future," Ms Mai said on Facebook.

"There is support in our community if you need it. Please, if you're considering suicide, talk to someone, make the most of your friends.

"If there's anything we can do to help, please, please, let us know."

Ms Mai said youth seemed particularly represented in the statistics, but older people often felt driven to suicide through isolation and loss of hope, too.

"I would do whatever it takes to help reduce the number of suicides, I don't care what it takes," she said.

"You can't underestimate the power of intervention, even the smallest intervention," she said.

"I'm taking advice, I'm listening to experts. There must be more we can do."

Suicide prevention educator Kahui Neho said she believed a pro-active, no-nonsense approach was needed.

"I've always believed that prevention to suicide is through education and knowledge," Ms Neho said.

"If we educate our people - all people - about the factors involved then they will have the tools to deal with their crises.

"If the crisis is at home, they'll have the tools to apply there, before they get so desperate or lacking in hope."

Ms Neho is the founder and director of awareness campaigns Green Ribbon and RATS (Riders Against Teenage Suicide).

She is also a trainer with Asist (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), which offers two-day interactive workshops.

Trained educators hold the workshops at schools, groups, clubs and marae.

"We talk about the three most common reasons for suicide - sexual, physical and mental abuse, bullying and young people's inability to cope with relationship break-ups.

"We talk about the need for zero tolerance in society. We talk about the myths of suicide, and signs.

"If we all used the same approach doctors use to treat cancer, more lives would be saved."

The workshops are free, and not funded by other service providers.
Ms Neho said her grandmother taught her knowledge - matauranga - had no cost, but lack of knowledge did.

The "reality suicide programmes" she offered were aimed at the "right now" of suicide risk, not the "what if" of some public services.

"How do we know they're not working? Because there are 606 people telling them, the known suicides from last year alone."

"That is the tip of the iceberg. We need to know more about the tens of thousands hidden under the waterline."

Northland Coroner Brandt Shortland said the three local cases had been referred to his office for inquiry.

Those and other inquiries could help identify if there were a cluster happening, such as in 2012/13 when there were 29 suicides in Northland.

Nineteen of those were young people.


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.


LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757​​