Warning: This article is about youth suicide and may be distressing for some readers.

Prime Minister Bill English says delivering mental health counselling and support via the internet can help address New Zealand's high suicide rate.

English today spoke at length about suicide during an interview with Leighton Smith on Newstalk ZB, after being asked about a Herald series - Break the Silence - highlighting the issue of youth suicide.

Online therapy - also known as e-therapy or distance therapy - sees therapists use mediums such as apps and video and voice messaging to deliver counselling and support to patients.

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English said he initially had his doubts, but had been won over.

Read more:
Break The Silence: Q&A on Herald special series

"The government has a role, particularly around the treatment and therapy services for young people - making them accessible, making them effective. The new tool on the horizon seems to be the e-therapy.

"I have to say I was a bit sceptical, but all the experts tell us it is as effective as face-to-face, dealing with young people with anxiety and depression."

New Zealand ranks second worst in the developed world for suicide in those aged 25 and under.

It is the worst in the world for suicide in those aged 15 to 19. The suicide rates have remained largely unchanged for two decades.

The Prime Minister said he believed the public knew how bad those statistics were.

"And I think they might feel a bit helpless about it. But any action that supports our young people, that deals with build-ups of anxiety or depression, are helping to reduce that suicide problem.

"The point here is what we can collectively do. The real challenge with suicide, particularly of young people, is if it was predictable, of course you would take every step you possibly could to stop a young person taking their life.

"But for those who have had association with it - and many people have had some kind of experience with it - often it is the unexpectedness, the randomness, the fact that when you look back it looks inevitable but at the time it didn't."

Break The Silence: See the full series here

English said areas that had suffered spates of youth suicides had managed to bring them to a close through providing concerted support and care.

"The point here is what we can collectively do. The real challenge with suicide, particularly of young people, is if it was predictable, of course you would take every step you possibly could to stop a young person taking their life.

WHERE TO GET HELP:

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.

OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:

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