There are fresh concerns for the wellbeing of Timaru’s youth following the death of a sixth teenager in the community, just two weeks after five teens were killed in a horror car crash.
Mountainview High School reached out to its community on Friday, urging parents and caregivers to communicate with their children following the death of “another young person this week”.
In a message shared on an authorised social media page, the school said its community has had a ’very rough time in the last few weeks and this lockdown is preventing us all from supporting each other in a way we would have wanted’’.
“As some of you may be aware Timaru tragically lost another young person this week,’’ the post says.
“We are in uncharted territory at this time with the recent tragic events coinciding with a lockdown. But we believe that preventative measures are our best defence to keep our tamariki safe.”
While the school was not able to share details of the death, it felt parents and caregivers needed to be aware, so they could “help minimise any further impact on our tamariki’’.
The school said the young person who had died had no direct relationship with the school.
“In a time when social media is the source for most information young people are exposed to, we are concerned that this information is already widely circulating.
“This information may not be accurate or helpful.’’
On Sunday, a Police media spokesperson confirmed police were notified of a sudden death in Timaru on August 17.
“Police are making enquiries in relation to the death on behalf of the Coroner and the Coroner will release their finding in due course.”
The death follows those of Jack ‘Jacko’ Wallace, 16, Javarney Drummond, 15, Niko Hill, 15, Andrew Goodger, 15, and Joseff McCarthy, 16, who were killed in the South Island’s worst crash in two decades, on August 7, at the intersection of Seadown and Meadows roads in Washdyke.
The driver and sole survivor of the crash, Tyreese Fleming, was released from hospital last week.
A funeral for Joseff McCarthy was held on Tuesday, just hours before New Zealand was placed under alert level 4 lockdown restictions.
Roncalli College principal Chris Comeau told The Timaru Herald, on Sunday, the school has a full time counsellor and director of wellbeing available via Zoom for students who request support.
“We also work closely with local support agencies in Timaru where we make referrals”, he said.
Comeau said the school was also in the process of gathering information from the community to gauge what level of support was needed in order to be proactive, not just reactive, during the lockdown.
Following the move to level 4 last week, South Canterbury Grief and Loss Co-ordinator Matt Cameron told The Timaru Herald
reaching out for help is important, but the act of others making contact if they know someone is struggling can be even more important.
Cameron was working as a teacher at Roncalli College during the first lockdown and said it really stood out for him how much young people wanted to have connections with others during that time.
WHERE TO GET HELP
Lifeline (open 24/7) – 0800 543 354
Depression Helpline (open 24/7) – 0800 111 757
Healthline (open 24/7) – 0800 611 116
Samaritans (open 24/7) – 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
Youthline (open 24/7) – 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email email@example.com
0800 WHATSUP children’s helpline – phone 0800 9428 787 between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 10pm on weekends. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day.
Kidsline (open 24/7) – 0800 543 754. This service is for children aged 5 to 18. Those who ring between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays will speak to a Kidsline buddy. These are specially trained teenage telephone counsellors.
Your local Rural Support Trust – 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)
Alcohol Drug Help (open 24/7) – 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691 for free.
For further information, contact the Mental Health Foundation‘s free Resource and Information Service (09 623 4812).