WARNING: SOME READERS MAY FIND THIS REPORT DISTRESSING
A boy in school uniform is found dead in the garage of a state house and the girl who liked him writes his name across her arm and kills herself.
Remember Colin Taipari-Herewini and Mia Dunn.
Both 14. Both from the same deprived region, the same school, the same classroom, the same background.
Just two Māori kids, two of 144 youths who took their lives in 2012. But the impact of their deaths spiralled beyond the borders of their Whangarei high school and laid bare a suicide epidemic that has shaken the highest echelons of government.
After Colin and Mia died, bureaucrats and officials from Northland to Wellington became aware of unprecedented suicidal behaviour in the north and began scrambling to conceal and contain it.
But nothing they could do was enough. So more children died.
They killed themselves in Mangonui, Kerikeri, Hikurangi, Whangaroa, Kaeo, Waipoua.
In desperation, political barriers were cut, funding released, new jobs created, trauma teams flown in and daily meetings held. The following year youth suicides in Northland dropped by more than half and the downward trend continued, with only one self-inflicted death in 2015.
The people of the north thought they were out of the woods. Iwi leaders said the situation was under control; the crisis had passed.
But death returned in early 2016. Six people aged 25 and under died by suspected suicide within three months in the small Far North town of Kaitaia.
The suicide contagion left those who had already lived through the nightmare of 2012 wondering: Where did we, as a country, go so wrong?
Where to get help:
- Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
- Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
- Youthline: 0800 376 633
- Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
- Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
- Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
- Samaritans: 0800 726 666
- Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)