Opening Shot: Suicide needn’t be the silent killer


How much should we talk or write about suicide, asks Paul Taylor.

Last week, Wakatipu High School warned parents about TV show 13 Reasons Why, which some claim glamorises teen suicide.

It has a three-minute suicide scene and as such an RP18 certificate in New Zealand; youngsters can only watch it with a parent or guardian.

Then, over the weekend, we read the heart-wrenching story of eight-year-old United State boy Gabriel Taye who’s suspected to have taken his own life after being bullied.

He’d been pushed into a wall at school and knocked unconscious, while trying to shake a bully’s hand.

Eight years old. I’m stunned someone that young is even aware of suicide.

In NZ, there are strict rules covering reporting about suicides.

We can’t say the method, or where it happened, and can only say “suspected suicide” until the coroner gives a final ruling.

Much of that is based on the fear of copycat deaths.

And, in general, we don’t get much information from Queenstown police on them, other than a steer that a death wasn’t suspicious.

So there’s just not much reporting about it. Is it a major problem in Queenstown? I honestly don’t know.

Last financial year, there were 43 suicides across our district health board area, and 579 nationally.

But numbers could be double that, as many methods are not ruled as suicide.

Maybe we need a much more open discussion and reporting of it – especially when kids can pick up details on Netflix.

It could help remove taboos, make people feel less alone, and give an insight into how much it affects loved ones.

Then again, maybe fewer restrictions in the US gave Gabriel too much information.

Lifeline Aotearoa: 0800 543354, Kidsline: 0800 543754, Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865, Samaritans: 0800 726 666, Youthline: 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email