• Sun, Sea and Suicide: The tragic case of Whangamata.

Sun, Sea and Suicide: The tragic case of Whangamata.

Tim Baker

Whangamata, a popular summer destination for Kiwis, has the highest youth suicide rate in the developed world.

Whangamata, a place known by most as a popular holiday destination visited by people from all over the world and full of multi-million dollar beach front holidays homes and hot rod cars, where revellers come to party up at new years eve or the annual beach-hop. What we all know about“Whanga” is its a little slice of paradise in godzone NZ. One thing you might not be aware of, however, is that this little slice of paradise tragically, has the highest youth suicide rate in the developed world.

But why?

Could it be because the town has no dedicated youth venue or a Marae for the locals who keep Whangamata running all year round? Surely that may be a contributing factor, yes. Is there no support for the good folk who run the businesses and services which cater to our holiday place? That revelation alone should be enough to spark a little outrage among us or, at the very least trigger the good Samaritan in us all and mobilise a few good folk to change the sad situation.

One thing that seems to be overlooked is the effect this has on a child's psyche, a sudden explosion of celebration and drinking and whatever else goes on several times a year in Whangamata must be, in certain ways overwhelming for the local children, especially those with certain sensitivities and social anxieties.

Could a child growing up in Whangamata experience something similar to what addicts do? The sudden bombardment on the senses, the over stimulation, the crash and “low” when the partygoers suddenly up and leave town?

Could this be triggering an ongoing depression in our young?

Could it be leading young people toward a path of addiction?

If you reading this are one of the holiday makes that enjoy Whangamata, maybe you have a holiday property there. Please support the community who make your summer holiday possible by supporting places like Cornerstone House (behind the Challenge service station in Whangamata) or the Whangamata Community Board who only had $37,000 in grants to give away last year, a figure far too low in my opinion. We can do better and we should.

Whangamata is a community that deserves our attention, our care and respect. It is not something to be consumed and forgotten about. Support the people that make Whangamata the place it is by donating to one of the organisations above today.

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