Monday, 13 June 2011


When my son was about 16 - the town of Invercargill went through a time of great soul searching. Young people, who had promising futures were killing themselves. As a reporter at the time we wondered and worried about the dilemma of reporting it.

One of the young men who killed himself was a very close mate of my son. He walked in and out of our home anytime he felt like it. He was extremely bright and came from a well heeled family.

My son had left school to go fishing. He was running with a fast crowd who dabbled in all the dark arts on offer and his mates had the money to experiment with every substance on offer.

His mate was in that crowd.

While my son was away fishing the young fella called and asked to talk to him , I explained that he was fishing and wouldn't be back for a couple of days.

The next day he killed himself. He was so intent on killing himself that when the branch of the tree broke on his first attempt - he just found a stronger branch. The funeral was one of the most bizarre I have ever been to. His suicide letter was read out and he blamed his mates for not being there for him.

My son was distraught at his death but thankfully he was very very angry. At the time I didn't realise that his was a good emotional response.
He could not believe that his mate had been stupid enough to kill himself.

To this day I am convinced drugs played a part in his death.

We talked long and often over the following weeks and my son was adamant that for him suicide was not worth considering. He considered it a cowards option.
And for him life was tough but good.
In the wake of that suicide there were others. And they were all linked. The highly emotional state of some teenagers is fertile ground for self loathing and a warped sense of hopelessness.

The paper wrote about the deaths and talked to the experts and the parents about the deaths. The signs to look for. I think it helped. We didn't over dramatise it or the deaths - just focused on the issue.

So now we have a "spate" of suicides in Kings College and there is much wringing of hands.

This is a far more disturbing trend. But they are brown and they are poor. And you would think judging by the public and media reaction to their deaths compared to the deaths of the Kings College students that they don't matter at all.


Ray said...

Agree 100%

alex Masterley said...

Me too.

It's hard to draw a link in the 4 Kings deaths though.
1 a medical issue,
1 alcohol being consumed in such quantities that the poor lad died of alcoholic poisoning (and no drugs), and
2 for death by other means.

Anonymous said...

I have different view.

Pretty sure Kings would be happy without the publicity as would the parents. The attention heaped on Kings is only due to a bit of rich-prick bashing to sell newspapers.