Warning: This article is about suicide and may be distressing for some readers.
As part of our Break the Silence series on youth suicide, we are publishing a number of first-person pieces. Today, we publish a letter New Zealand Herald reporter Olivia Carville received from a teen who attempted suicide aged 10. He explains how being rejected by public mental health services affected him and his parents. The Herald has chosen not to identify him. The letter is published with the knowledge and support of his parents. In his own words:
Thank you for taking the time to hear my story. Below is my story, in my words.
When I was 10 I tried to kill myself. I was upset by some other kids because of something I truly believed in. I didn't believe there was any option for me.
My mum tried really hard to get me help. She rang many places, places that advertise that they are available 24/7, places that advertise that they are there for you if you need them. Nobody was.
Nobody believed my mum that I was 10 and had been serious about killing myself.
In the end my mum took me to see a private child psychologist, but even he couldn't see me straight away. We had to wait. My mum took time off work that she didn't get paid for so that she could be there for me. I didn't go to school until after I had seen him.
I saw this psychologist four times. In the end he gave my mum and dad ways of trying to cope with me and ways I could help myself. He never followed up with me.
The school sent a referral to somewhere to try and get me help. We never heard anything back.
I'm now 13. I started high school this year. So far I have been referred by two schools, my GP and mum and dad to Camhs (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) and to the CDC (Child Development Centre) a total of seven times. Camhs saw me once and also referred me to the CDC, who continue to reject me.
Camhs decided I have some form of autism that isn't their specialty. I'm still waiting for a proper diagnosis so I can get the help I need at school. But apparently I'm too high-functioning to get the diagnosis.
I have now attended three schools and I have only had one teacher who has taken the time to get to know me and how I learn. I have difficulty working things out sometimes. I believe there is also not enough education getting to schools about how to deal with students with mental health issues.
I have a really good guidance counsellor at school I can go to any time. He is really good at listening to me and helping me see things in a different light.
I worry that other kids are going through what I went through and still go through. I worry that their parents are as upset as my parents are at the lack of help.
I don't think there are enough people working at the CDC to see everyone that needs to be seen. I worry that the taxes we pay aren't going to the places they should and we will continue to see a rise in child suicide because of this. I believe a child's mental development should be taken more seriously.
I agreed to speak to you and put my story out there to try and help these other kids who may not have the support that I do with my parents and guidance counsellor or that they are too afraid to ask for help.
Thanks Olivia and I hope we can get Bill English to listen to us.
Max signed off his letter with a smiley face.
• Support Youthline by donating via youthline.co.nz/breakthesilence.
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 111.
If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:
DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666