Trio of teen deaths in the Manawatu

The sudden deaths of three teenagers in the past week in the Manawatu region has seen school principals set up guidance and counselling services for distressed classmates.

None of the deaths are being treated as suspicious.

The body of a 14-year-old girl, from Awatapu College, was found in a playground area of Palmerston North's Victoria Esplanade on Tuesday morning.

This incident followed the deaths of an 18-year-old Marton girl on Saturday and a 16-year-old boy, who attended Palmerston North Boys' High School, on Sunday.

Awatapu College principal Tina Sims said the death of the 14-year- old girl was a tragedy.

"We have got a place set up for students to receive support. We have been in touch with mental health services and crisis teams have been put in place for all students."

Parents of students who knew the girl had been contacted by school staff, she said.

Boys' High rector Tim O'Connor said the school was working with the student's family and individuals affected by his death.

"Counsellors are spending time with boys and we have set up an area [this week].

"We have about 70 to 80 boys going to the funeral."

Funerals were to be held for this teen and the 18-year-old Marton girl today.

Suicide Prevention Information NZ director Merryn Statham said it was not unusual to see clusters of deaths among young people.

"Suicide is still an incredibly rare event. When you get a little cluster, sometimes it's just out of the blue."

Reports about increasing teen suicides were often misguided because the statistical age group described as youth was under 24, she said.

"Most of these deaths sit at 21-to- 24 [year-olds]."

Although most suicides in New Zealand occurred among people aged 25 and over, youth suicides were still disproportionately high.,

"One of the key messages is that you can seek help," Ms Statham said.

She said Palmerston North's Youth One Stop Shop was a great example of one of the organisations young people could reach out to.


Manawatu Standard