Connecting Through Kōrero

A guide for having safe, open, honest and compassionate kōrero about suicide with taiohi/young people.

Taiohi/young people know suicide is a big issue in Aotearoa, and they know it affects most of us in some way. 

They may come across it through the media, they may know someone who has died by suicide or be supporting a friend who is feeling suicidal. They may have had thoughts of suicide themselves.

Although it can feel hard to kōrero/talk about the tough stuff, it’s important that we can all have safe, open, honest and compassionate kōrero about suicide so our taiohi feel heard, supported and understood.

The Connecting Through Kōrero guidebook and videos are for parents, caregivers, teachers, counsellors, aunties, uncles, friends and other whānau members - anyone who cares about taiohi and needs tautoko/support and guidance to kōrero with them about suicide. Watch the video(s) that best suit your situation and read through the sections below, and see our Useful resources page for additional information.

If you are concerned that taiohi in your life may be having thoughts of suicide right now, this resource will not be useful to you. Instead visit our Worried about someone webpage for more information. 

How to safely talk about suicide

If you notice something is up with someone in your whānau, start the kōrero.

You don’t have to be an expert to kōrero about suicide – you just have to be willing to listen with aroha.

There is tautoko/ support available to help whānau through tough times.

Suicide in the media

If you notice a taiohi/young person seems distracted or distressed it’s important to check in with them.

Taiohi can be affected by reading about or seeing suicide on screen, online, in books or in the media. It’s important to ask how they’re doing and acknowledge their thoughts and feelings.

There is no single reason why a person dies by suicide, but whatever they were feeling/experiencing at that time they were not able to see a better future for themselves.

When a celebrity dies by suicide

It’s normal and okay for people to be affected by news of a celebrity suicide.

Suicide can touch anyone.

It’s important not to judge people.

When youth joke about suicide

Flippant language around suicide can be distressing – words can hurt.

Jokes about suicide can be a way to cope with tough things in life. It’s important to check in with taiohi if you’re concerned.

It’s important to challenge taiohi about the use of language and reflect on what they say.

You can empower taiohi to role-model change and make safer environments for everyone.

When a young person's supporting a mate

For adults:

Check in with a taiohi/young person if you’re worried they’re trying to handle a tough situation alone.

Taiohi are most likely to turn to a friend if they’re going through a difficult time, or feeling suicidal. This can be very challenging for the friend.

Help your taiohi understand they can’t fix a situation or solve it alone.

For taiohi:

If you are supporting a friend who is having suicidal thoughts it is important to tell a trusted adult and not carry that situation on your own.

It isn’t weak to get support when going through tough times.