Mother of teen suicide victim hits out at mental health services

The mother of a teen suicide victim has opened up about how mental health services failed to provide for her whanau when they needed their help most.

Hana Reedy, whose 15-year-old daughter Ariana took her own life two months ago, is on Tuesday delivering a 30,000-signature petition to Parliament in a push to get NZ First to have a mental health inquiry as one of its bottom lines in coalition discussions.

The Hawke's Bay resident appeared on The AM Show on Tuesday morning, and spoke openly of the rigmarole she and Ariana went through to get help - only to find there was none.

"Three months ago I was having problems with my daughter. I didn't realise how bad it was until she tried to take her life the first time," Ms Reedy explained.

"We got taken to the hospital and were assessed by CAFS [Child Adolescent and Family Service]. We had two psychiatrists come in to assess my daughter, and they told her it was behavioural."

Ms Reedy said that process was carried out on a Friday, and they were discharged the following Sunday. When Ariana tried to commit suicide a second time, she felt her plight wasn't taken seriously, despite her repeating the act.

"The second time my daughter tried to attempt her life, we were sent home on Sunday and she'd tried to attempt [to take] her life on the Wednesday - so that's within a week," she said.

"We were admitted on Wednesday, my daughter was assessed on Thursday and they told us it was just behavioural. But I thought it was serious enough to get some help for my daughter."

Ms Reedy said she and Ariana were offered a bed in Wellington on Thursday, so went home to pack bags before returning to the Hastings Children's ward. However, by Friday morning, they were informed the bed had been taken.

Ms Reedy said the appropriate mental health services simply were simply "not at all" there for her daughter - and the likes of CAFS and Child Youth and Family (CYF) had failed them.

"If CYF has got a problem with us parents, they're at our door asking questions - why are you doing this, why are you doing that to your child - but when you have a problem with CYF, they say there's nowhere for your daughter," she said.

"If you know your child has got a problem... just keep going to [the mental health services] and saying something's wrong. Because there was something wrong with my daughter."

A spokesperson for CYF told Newshub it couldn't comment on Ariana's case for privacy reasons, but said it isn't responsible for the provision of mental health services.

The Hawke's Bay DHB's mental health director Simon Shaw told Newshub Ariana's death was "devastating" for those involved in her care, but said her suicide attempts, like all others, were treated "extremely seriously".

Dr Shaw is convinced the service Hawke's Bay DHB provides is "robust" - a sentiment echoed by acting chief executive Sharon Mason, who says she has "full confidence" in its current services for at-risk young people.

However Ms Reedy disagrees - and says the petition she's delivering to Parliament is to show those involved in coalition talks that the public wants the new Government to take mental health seriously this coming term.

"The services need to realise our children are dying young - they need to understand that something needs to happen now," she explained.

"I didn't realise how big a problem this was until my own daughter passed away."

Where to find help and support:

  • Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
  • Healthline: 0800 611 116
  • Samaritans: 0800 726 666
  • Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757
  • Mental Health Foundation