LEVIN FAMILY HEALTH - Open 1st August 2023


Gary says... Teenage Suicide in Mid-Central is Not Discussed Enough

Teenage Suicide in the Mid-Central Region of New Zealand

Teenage suicide is a pressing and complex issue that has far-reaching social and public health implication and one that affects so many. In the Mid-Central region, the problem of teenage suicide is a matter of concern, and it demands immediate attention that all sectors of the health system needs to  put much more effort into. The staff at Levin Family Health aim to provide our perspective of the current situation, contributing factors, and potential solutions to address teenage suicide in this region.

Current Situation

The Mid-Central region, which includes areas like Manawatu-Whanganui and Taranaki, faces a significant challenge regarding teenage suicide. While the exact statistics may have changed since my last knowledge update in September 2021, it's crucial to acknowledge that New Zealand has historically had a higher youth suicide rate compared to many other countries. Factors such as isolation, extreme limited access to mental health services, economic disparities, and cultural influences have all contributed to the problem.

Contributing Factors

1.     Mental Health Stigma: Stigma, in any instance, surrounding mental health issues can prevent teenagers from seeking help, and this is a problem that resonates across the country. Many adolescents may be reluctant to disclose their emotional struggles to friends, family, or professionals due to the fear of being judged or stigmatized. We still struggle to find the pathway that makes this less difficult for our youth to navigate.

2.     Bullying and Social Pressures: Teenagers often face bullying and intense social pressures, especially with the rise of social media. Cyberbullying and the unrealistic standards set by online platforms can lead to feelings of inadequacy, isolation, and despair. Let’s not underplay the part confrontational bullying affects our youth and the pressure this impacts the ability to seek a helping hand.

3.     Economic Disparities: Socioeconomic factors play a significant role in determining access to quality healthcare and support systems. Lower-income families may find it more challenging to access mental health services, contributing to the issue.

4.     Cultural and Indigenous Factors: The unique cultural and indigenous factors in New Zealand can also influence teenage suicide rates, particularly among Māori and Pacific Islander populations. These cultural factors can manifest in other issues related to upholding cultural expression.

5.     Access to Mental Health Services: The availability and accessibility of mental health services, including counselling and therapy, are crucial for addressing teenage suicide. In rural areas within the Mid-Central region, limited resources and long waiting times for services may exacerbate the problem. Unfortunately we are not seeing enough efforts to improve this by the PHO or Te Whatu Ora Mid-Central, although they believe they are doing their best for Mental Health this is not being accompanied by enough services to produce better results within the region.

Potential Solutions

1.     Mental Health Education: Implement comprehensive mental health education programs in schools to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and help teenagers recognise signs of mental distress in themselves and their peers.

2.     Accessible Services: Increase the accessibility of mental health services in rural areas through mobile clinics, tele-health, and outreach programs.

3.     Community Involvement: Encourage communities to establish support networks, clubs, and activities that promote resilience and mental well-being among teenagers.

4.     Early Intervention: Train teachers, parents, and community leaders to identify warning signs of suicide risk and provide support or referrals to professional help when necessary.

5.     Cultural Sensitivity: Develop culturally sensitive approaches to addressing the unique challenges faced by indigenous and minority populations within the region.

6.     Media Responsibility: Promote responsible media reporting on suicide, reducing the glorification and sensationalisation of suicide cases that can contribute to a contagion effect.


Teenage suicide is a pressing concern in the Mid-Central region, as well as the broader country. It requires a comprehensive approach that addresses contributing factors and promotes awareness, early intervention, and accessible mental health services. Collaboration between communities, educational institutions, healthcare providers, and the government is essential to create a supportive environment where teenagers can find hope, help, and healing. Levin Family Health has looked at how we provide a starting point, ongoing research and community effort crucial to address this critical issue effectively.

Having a safe and open space creates conversations critical to therapeutic healing – Levin Family Health has created a safe environment for conversation and management to improve Mental Health, we encourage and support conversational dialogue that strengthens our involvement in advocating for solutions.