8 Aug 2017

Principal apologises for blaming suicide victim

8:10 pm on 8 August 2017

The principal of a high school whose letter to parents named and blamed a student for committing suicide says he's very sorry and saddened that he has caused further distress.

A teenage Māori boy looking unhappy

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

In the letter the principal, who RNZ has decided not to name, called the student's decision an "irreversible and unacceptable choice".

Mental health advocate Mike King criticised the letter yesterday, saying the school had ostracised the girl and shamed her and her family in front of the entire community.

Mr King said while the school's intentions would have been good, the delivery was "appalling".

The principal declined to be interviewed, saying in a statement that it was not in the best interest for his students.

He said it was not his intention to cause more distress and everyone at the school felt deeply for those affected.

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.