Topic: Youth

Whānau speaks out about cyber-bullying following son's sudden death

By Dean Nathan
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

A youth group promoting the importance of life believes youth-centred approaches are vital to stopping cyber-bullying. 

It follows after the sudden death of 13-year-old Kopani McIlroy in Rotorua. 

Kopani Mcllroy's family have spoken out about cyber-bullying following his sudden death.

Joanne Kiro says, "You sit there and you think about his last moments and how that played out and I guess because you've got a marae full of teenagers its I guess quite pouri to hear that one of your own that's gone away just recently has come home in that state or in that passing and your never gonna see him again."

Photos and posts on Kopani McIlroy's Facebook page reveal details of his mental state.

Kiro says, "I don't think the principal realised how detrimental Kopani's passing was for the students because its actually ..they couldn't focus throughout the whole day and so we had to allow as part of a decision making to allow them to grieve within the hall of Northland College."

Students at Northland College are still coming to terms with the loss of a good friend who left Northland only months ago to live in Rotorua. 

Youth group, The Raid Movement says what's needed is community-based initiatives led by youth to deal with issues such as bullying and suicide prevention.

Mariameno Kapa- Kingi says, "It is how you engage with young people ..that's fundamentally what has to change.  because they know the tools like when you talk about cyber bullying so we're talking about social media and then we're talking about digital natives which are young people."

Kopani was raised by his grandmother in Northland, but recently moved to live with this mother in Rotorua.  

His death is still under investigation but the family says more dialogue is needed on the issue of cyber-bullying. 

Joanne Kiro says, "It's too sensitive and then you get your tamariki and youth saying well I actually want to talk about it. So how do you address that with them and find a way to find some solutions for it. "

If you're concerned someone you know may be thinking of suicide, please contact Lifeline on 0800 543 534 or the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865.