29 March 2006
Youth Suicide – Rejecting The Tyranny Of Silence
Founding Chairman of the Youth Suicide Awareness Trust, Gregory Fortuin today commended those News Organisations that
rejected the Tyranny of silence on the vexing issue of youth suicide.
Fortuin said “It was under the regime of SILENCE that New Zealand achieved a Gold Medal in Youth Suicide. Three young
people a week were taking their own lives in 1996 and as parents and as a society not many of us knew, but these
so-called “experts” certainly did”. The latest stats on the Ministry of Health’s website says female suicide (10 -24) is
double what it was in 2000, but the SILENCE must be maintained.
The launch of the Youth Suicide Awareness Trust saw condemnations from a great height and threatening press releases
inferring more suicides as a consequence. “I am proud of the advocacy and constructive work the Trust did that forced
the public debate and saw the formulation of the Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy” Fortuin said.
“I challenge the so-called experts to show me the New Zealand research that says young Kiwis are informed via the media
about suicide. In our small country kids are informed mouth to mouth and by their peers. They know about actual events
way before the media does. What we need are Peer Support Programmes that will prevent these tragedies as opposed to
“experts” after the fact”.
“I regret that I went soft on this issue because of a different role in 1992 and the naïve view that the approach had
changed. Of course we must all be responsible in our approach; we must not exploit families or sensationalise this
complex and tragic matter. Neither is there a silver bullet. But we all know that festering wounds need to be cut open
and cleaned out, keeping a lid on it will never bring about permanent healing”.