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

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says he accepts the Government's current approach to teen and youth suicide isn't working and that it's time "to do things differently".

New Zealand has the worst teen suicide rate in the world and the second worst youth rate.

Despite a concerted effort across multiple agencies the number of young people killing themselves has remained largely unchanged for the past two decades.


Investigation: 'The S Word' - Why schools can't talk about suicide

Break the Silence: Q&A on Herald special series

• Iinvestigation: The untold story of teen suicide in the North

Coleman says suicide rates in New Zealand are "too high" and that's why the Government announced in the budget in May that it would invest an extra $224 million over four years in mental health, including $124m for "new innovative approaches".

But seven weeks after Budget Day it's still unclear what precisely those new approaches will be or when they will be implemented.

"We've taken a paper to Cabinet which outlines the first load of initiatives which we think the money should go towards and then we're going to have a further paper to Cabinet within a couple of months which will confirm that," Coleman says.

The New Zealand Herald is running a special series on youth suicide called Break The Silence. It aims to raise awareness of our suicide rates, to start a national conversation about the issue and to encourage young people to ask for help.

Coleman's office declined multiple requests for an interview on the issue, on one occasion referring us to a speech on the subject he made earlier this year. We finally spoke to him outside a public meeting on Auckland's North Shore.


On the question of whether it was time to change strict rules banning the discussion of suicide in schools, Coleman says it's important to be guided by best practice and research.

"We've just got to see what the experts are saying around that, but it's very important that we make progress on this issue.

"We've said quite clearly we do need to do things differently. So it's the social investment approach, it's across departments, it's a focus on resilience, early intervention and promoting wellness."

Coleman says the new initiatives will be announced before the election and rolled out "soon after that".

• Support the Mental Health Foundation by texting "Break the Silence" to 2446 to make an automatic $3 donation.

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 111.

If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:

LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234

There are lots of places to get support. For others, click here.