27 Jul 2011

Condemning suicide not the answer - kaumatua

6:53 pm on 27 July 2011

An eastern Bay of Plenty kaumatua is criticising one of the region's MPs for suggesting that people who commit suicide should have different Maori burial rituals.

Te Ururoa Flavell, who is MP for the Bay of Plenty-based seat of Waiariki, says the lives of people who kill themselves should not be celebrated.

He suggested people who take their own lives should only have a one-day tangi and should be buried at the front of a burial ground so their actions can be publicised.

He said more than 10 teenagers have committed suicide in Kawerau in the past year, which indicates that something major needs to change.

The Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi Ngati Awa says it wouldn't take up the suggestions, because people should be remembered for their lives, rather than just the way they died.

Mr Flavell said his comments were never meant to hurt people but it's essential that a hard line is taken. While it is important to be compassionate, he said, it's also important not to glorify people who take their own lives.

A Bay of Plenty community worker, Mate Tangitu, says embarrassing the families isn't the answer, and that education and support will reduce the number of suicides.