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Youth Suicide in New Zealand

Filed under: General — Downunder @ 12:07 pm Sun 24th March 2019

Youth suicide became a dirty word on this site when the country’s political element decided to use these tragedies to deflect attention from the 50 or so casualties each month who are mostly adult men. That was following their attempts to belittle male deaths by turning attention to female attempts or threats of suicide or self-harm.

This on-going battle for recognition of male suicide and it’s long history is briefly discussed in a previous post The Suicide Debate when the death of Greg Boyed disturbed the delicate peace of our political and media manipulation.

Like any dishonesty you never know when the light is going to shine in a dark hole and I am sure I’m not the only one who has been asking themselves where does this go from here?

I’m sure every mother has asked the question; Why my son?

There’s a couple of important observations to be made:

First is this. For the older generation, suicide was in our youth, vritually unheard of. Then through our lives as, unbeknownst to many, the surpressed figures rocketed upwards, and discussion on the subject suffered active surpression.

Second is this. In our Feminist society, children, possibly more so now, boys rather than girls, are taking longer to grow up. An age as high as 25 years old has been suggested as the current top end of what should be considered adolescent years.

Then today I see a story on Radio New Zealand by Charlie Dreaver

This is Charlie’s report;

A mother whose son killed himself six years ago says she is still waiting for a coroner’s inquest into his death.

Corinda Taylor founded the Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust to help families who had lost a relative to suicide.

She took her son’s case to the Health and Disability Commissioner who found fault with his care but the Southern District Health Board said they had done everything the commissioner asked.

But Ms Taylor disputes this has happened.

Ms Taylor has been told there would be an inquest, but she only received correspondence this month.

“We had a pre-inquest meeting with the corner on the 13th of December last year, this is the first correspondence from the corner and that was dated the 4th of March,” she said.

She said both the pre-inquest meeting and correspondence was hard to interpret.

“We had to have lawyers, otherwise we would have been totally out of our depth.

“That just shows the unfairness on families having to face this in the aftermath, without lawyers you can’t present your case in the best way possible.”

She said with constant delays her family had to pay astronomical legal fees.

There was also a case pending with the Human Rights Review Tribunal, but it had been agreed between parties involved the inquest would go first.

Ms Taylor and her family marked the sixth year anniversary of her son Ross on Friday.

“This legal process is barrier to moving on forward and enjoying life, which we are unable to do at the moment,” she said.

She said the system needed to change to give families more support to prevent this happening.

I’ve made my position clear previously that for too long we’ve seen an abject failure in both the Coroner’s Office and in the process of presenting information to an inquiry, to ever be able to stem the tide of unnecessary death without coming to terms with the causes.

I look at this with particular interest.

First because we see the defences have risen against culpability and negligence.

Second, because I am wondering how many individuals are fighting a similar individual battle, without being able to recognise or even know about the collective issues of many other individuals around the country.

In the second point, which has been observable for many years, it’s undestandly that individual families want to put their grief to rest to carry on with their lives. So, it’s hard to develop an active resistance to this even though we haven’t seen so many deaths since the first and second world wars.

The first point highlights, I think, the where does this go next?

Some mothers are finally getting angry about the loss of their sons.


  1. Susan Devoy & Golriz Ghahraman often talk about “toxic” masculinity & it needs to stop. Judging by the suicide rates, young men in the West are in crisis. This hateful rhetoric toward our beautiful boys will only promote internal shame, pain & anger. (link:

    And it’s great that some people can see the importance of identity to the person as a political construct rather than a religious one.

    Comment by Evan Myers — Wed 27th March 2019 @ 3:40 pm

  2. NZ further raises suicide performance:

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Mon 26th August 2019 @ 7:58 pm

  3. To clarify #1

    Copied from Twitter.

    Last paragraph only was my comment.

    Comment by Evan Myers — Tue 27th August 2019 @ 8:18 am

  4. One method of searching for inequity in how the good and bad things of life are shared, is to look for statistical differences between advantaged people and disadvantaged people.
    This article notes that mechanisms of reducing life expectancy for less educated people appear to be suicide, drug and alcohol abuse.
    Association Between Educational Attainment and Causes of Death Among White and Black US Adults, 2010-2017
    Even more pointed, is comparing USA citizens health to the general levels of health in European and other countries with a universal publicly funded health system. This differential of health is quite large. Although USA has the highest average spending per person on healthcare, the outcomes for the average person are quite a distance down the list of countries.
    Unfortunately NZ is slowly drifting away from universal publicly funded healthcare and the increasingly legalistic behaviour of ACC is adding to this regressive change in NZ. We appear to be slowly drifting in the USA direction. This is particularly so in mental healthcare.
    There is talk about improving publicly funded mental healthcare in NZ. I cannot see it offering anything to people who have already completed suicide?
    Most important of all, is having more positive behaviours through our society, so that we manufacture less mental health problems than we are presently achieving. Schools are perhaps the leaders of this movement in our society. Care for very young children needs to be much more carefully addressed, to keep our children safe from unsafe parenting.
    You can give a hundred people a tiny piece of mental health death with no consequences. But if you kill one person on your own, you might be jailed. Peter Whittle seems to have found 29 loopholes in these laws for people with white collars.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Wed 28th August 2019 @ 9:28 am

  5. Murray, ‘more positive behaviours through our society, so that we manufacture less mental health problems.. yes, it needs to come from the ground up, the top down and every where in between.. how does a society change or better itself?

    Comment by mama — Wed 28th August 2019 @ 7:10 pm

  6. We don’t want to, do we?
    Schools are encouraging student’s to be patient and listen to each other’s fears and worries. Then as a wider group, to offer ongoing support to each other. This is a very powerful set of behaviours to encourage and almost certainly will reduce suicidal behaviours and the need for them.
    Some employers are giving similar encouragement to their staff. This is especially worthwhile if same staff have skills that might be difficult to replace.
    A few churches are encouraging these same positive mental health behaviours among their congregations and giving fewer stigmatising instructions. For example less stigmating of people not in hetero-relationships and less stigmatising of short men. Sir Robert Muldoon was one such short man and there were others too. These will lead to reduced death rates and these churches will have increasing congregations, according to evolutionary theory. It might take a while.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Fri 30th August 2019 @ 9:36 am

  7. I know that this paper is now quite old 2005.
    But the ideas in it are as useful and valid today, as they were in 2005. This paper was written by a rural GP, who wanted to improve society’s support and care for all people, including men.
    These ideas are well worth acting on, in Australia and in NZ.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Fri 30th August 2019 @ 9:50 am

  8. Medical people are starting to have a much better understanding of population wide mental health issues. In the last 30 years these have played out in blood in countries of genocide – Yugoslavia and its remnant pieces, Rwanda, USA Black Lives Matter and Poor Lives Matter, Russia and Chechnia, China and its Moslem citizens..
    These same forces of dishonesty, corruption and lack of care are playing out in NZ. Less dramatically, but still worth a lot of our attention and reconciliation?

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Sat 7th September 2019 @ 10:24 am


    So humans failed.
    A rare event, without a plan.

    It’s not that they didn’t search for the family.
    Or in its care, do there best.
    It’s that they didn’t find it in time.

    So the question becomes.
    How to next time, not fail.

    A better plan for searching.
    Able to be actioned quickly.
    So the whales haven’t traveled to far.

    Or get them to come to you.
    Would they come to the baby’s sounds.
    If broadcast underwater.

    As humans interfered, spending resources.
    Hopefully from failure.
    The next one gets better odds.
    By learning from mistakes.
    Or seeing new options.

    Did it not remind us.
    How precious, life can be.
    And our obligations towards it.

    Comment by DJ Ward — Sun 25th July 2021 @ 11:42 am

  10. There’s a question around youth suicide as to whether it is a mental health issue. An amount of money can be thrown at that creating the perception of action.

    I would suggest though this is a convenient way to avoid the issue of a failed education system.

    One that no longer instills discipline, thinking processes and resilience.

    The process has young people believing they are unwell ratter than poorly educated.

    Without acknowledging that failure then of course we will only see the false belief grow its numbers and overwhelm what services might struggle to treat the fallacy.

    Comment by Evan Myers — Sun 25th July 2021 @ 12:53 pm

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