7 Aug 2017

Mike King critical of school letter after student's death

From Checkpoint, 5:18 pm on 7 August 2017

Mental health advocate Mike King is criticising a school that sent out a letter to parents last week which named and seemingly blamed a student for committing suicide.

The letter was addressed to parents and caregivers.

"Last night [the student's name], a Year 11 student, took her own life," the letter stated.

"This is an irreversible and unacceptable choice that she has made and one that, along with her family and friends, we are deeply saddened about." 

Mr King said the problems with the letter were that the student was named, that it identified the death as suicide which only a coroner can rule on, and that it blamed the victim.

"The only thing that is unacceptable is this letter," he told Checkpoint.

He said he did not know if the school had approached the family before the letter was sent.

While the school's intentions would have been good, the delivery was "appalling", he said.

"They've turned around and they've ostracised this young lady - they have shamed her and her family in front of the entire community.

He said he had contacted the Ministry of Education about the letter, and the ministry told him that was not something they encouraged.

He said the ministry told him the school rebuffed any help.

The judgmental attitude demonstrated in the letter is what prevented young people from asking for help, he said. 

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.



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