GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – I have just signed a petition to parliament by 13 year old Sinead Latimer


I have just signed a petition to parliament by 13 year old Sinead Latimer . She wants counsellors in primary schools.

Here’s what her petition says:

“I am 13 years old and have suffered depression for 3 years now, due to being bullied. I have started college and have access to a wonderful counsellor. Where were they in primary school? Why did I have to wait to get to college to be offered help?

I know of people that are self-harming and after a really good friend of mine jumped in front of a train last year at the age of 15, I knew something had to change. We need counsellors in primary schools now if we have any chance of saving our lives. 

We have the highest rate of teenage suicide in the developed world. According to Stephen Bell (Director of Youthline ) In a average week two teenagers kill themselves and about 20 young people will be hospitalised for self-harm each week, he estimated.

So I commend Sinead’s petition to you to help get the parliamentary site signatures she needs.

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Good on you Sinead.
Kia Kaha


Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. Just my opinion. Reason? They wake up to the brain dead, spirit dead and joyless nightmare of modern NZ where dosh and property and landlordism are the religion and where they can never never own their own place, but will be landlord prey for the rest of their miserable natural! Plus be wage slaves or paupers on the benefit being derided by aholes like Mike Hoskins! who’s a millionaire creep for the establishment.

    • But is it? A child of 13 or even 15 doesn’t think about the housing crisis and landlords overcharging for mouldy houses. This stuff is getting the adults depressed, sure. But teenagers are much more self absorbed and prone to peer pressure in a huge way that is uncomprehensible to adult minds. Just a thought?

  2. Counsellors in school are a great idea but how about we draw the connection between schooling and the unhappiness of the people who get schooled.

    I’m not criticising teachers – most of them care about the kids but schools are the primary method of colonising young minds and getting us to genuflect to authority. This was stated clearly by the educational theorists who first proposed compulsory schooling. Read the work of John Taylor Gatto if you want references.

  3. Well done Sinead, keep up the good work and look after yourself. Your petition is very important and I hope someone in Parliament realises that.
    Some online petitions are very complicated and cumbersome but your one is easy to sign, even though I had to prove I was not a robot!
    In the old days petitions were collected by people with a big stack of paper for you to sign. Now we have everything online and the world is different and scary in some ways which older people do not really understand or prefer to ignore.
    School should be a safe place to go to x

  4. Suicides, loneliness, antisocial behaviour etc are all just symptoms of our dysfunctional society. We need to tear it up and start again, and we need to start from the bottom, with those living in cars or garages, not pandering to the middle class buying 3 bedroom houses for a nuclear family of 3 at $500,000. each.
    When I was living with my family for a while in the UK, we lived in a row of tenement 2-storey 3 bedroom houses, built about 100 years ago. The frontage was only 4m and being 2 storey the floor area and roof area was only half that of the modern tacky box, so insulating it was a breeze. Also, since the houses ran continuously, insulation of the party walls was unnecessary. Literally millions of these houses were built (not all like Coronation St) all over the UK. We loved the place.
    How do we replicate that NZ? It is easy to modify shipping containers for accommodation and it should be possible to make a 2-storey unit joined tenement fashion to other units like Lego, that would be a big improvement on living in a car.
    These houses would be temporary and could be moved around the country to new building sites as required. The first occupants would be the building personnel; then those needing urgent accommodation; then first home buyers. Obviously the land the units are built on will be short term rental and total rent per unit may be $50/wk??.
    It should be possible to build at such a rate that house prices should begin to fall. Getting those in desperate need out of their cars should begin to impact on some of our social problems but it is just a start.

  5. Sorry but counselors are the ambulances at the bottom of the cliff and I don’t understand why a 15 year old would resort to wanting to kill themselves because they were bullied.
    As kids we were bullied at school, this is not a 21st century problem. It has existed for many years – but we toughed it out. We might have got a beating at worst or been called some names but we picked ourselves up, brushed ourselves off and continued on with our lives.
    The youth of today don’t seem to have any resilience.
    I’m not saying that’s their fault – I think society has a lot to be answerable for in this instance – kids aren’t being prepared for the realities of life and given the tools they need to survive in the world. Secondly I think social media has taken away the need for kids to form positive personal relationships with each other. Now it’s done on a cellphone or a computer and I heard recently that whether you’re popular and accepted or not comes down to how many ‘likes’ you get (or not).
    These things are just bollocks. A phone isn’t going to hug you when you’re down, a computer isn’t going to help you through a rough patch in your life.
    Yes things were different when I was growing up, but I don’t know any one in my peer group that wanted to self-harm just because things got a bit hard. When ‘shit got real’ we turned to our mates or our parents for support, or we just rode it out and sucked it up because we knew things would get better, and they did.
    Don’t think I am uncaring or heartless when it comes to people who are hurting for whatever reason because I’m not – I’ve had some pretty dark days myself and I know how bad things can get, especially in the areas of depression and mental illness.
    Suicide however is never the answer and it’s not the way to escape because you don’t know what is waiting in the afterlife – the grass is not always greener on the other side and you’re a long time dead.

    • Just because you didn’t know anyone in your peer group who wanted to self-harm, does not mean that it wasn’t happening.

      Suicide may well be a release for some people from intolerable mental pain, and today’s young people are not helped by people like you making generalisations, or judging them. This is not what they need. They need our support, even if we think their concerns bollocks.

      Most of us do know people who decided to sign off, and things do not always get better for everyone, and simplifying tragic issues helps no-one.

      • I think you’ve completely mis-read or misinterpreted the thought pattern of my contribution.
        I’m not simplifying a tragic issue, nor am I making generalisations or judging them in any way. I am simply stating the obvious.
        As I said, for the most part society has a lot to answer for in this area.
        As it happens, I lost a good friend to suicide so I know only too well the tragedy of this.
        In the 1980s when I was a teenager, suicide by people my age was unheard of.
        Today, it is daily news. This suggests something fundamental has changed and we need to identify it and find solutions.
        When you have kids that cannot stand to be parted from their cellphones for fear of missing a message from a friend or seeing a status update on social media, you know there is a serious problem.
        By sitting back and being observers rather than doers, and suggesting that taking your own life is a practical solution when things get a bit hard we are not going to see an end to this.
        I am aware of a situation recently where police were called to a house where a 15 year old girl started self-harming and threatening to take herself out all because she wasn’t allowed to go to a party somewhere.
        Yes, young people do need help and support – but they also need to be raised to deal with stresses and problems in life and not allowed to believe that exiting this world is the way of dealing with hardship or hurdles which everyone will face at some time or other in their life.
        Bullying is not an easy thing to solve, but parents could make a difference by teaching their kids that it’s not OK to abuse others. It starts with the bullies and how they’ve been raised. If your kid is a bully then you have failed your parental responsibilities. My mother taught me to be kind to others – so I didn’t bully people.
        I agree that things don’t always get better – at least not in the short term, but if you sign off then you remove all possibility of that ever happening and this is what everyone seeks to avoid happening for those who think it is the solution.
        I don’t think you read my post that well. I didn’t say that their concerns were bollocks – I said the things like social media and popularity based on likes were bollocks.
        When someone gets depressed/dejected/suicidal because they didn’t get any silly little emoticons on a computer screen, that’s a serious problem.
        Things need to be looked at in context. You have things like this happening, and real world problems which are genuine cause for concern.
        I recently watched a documentary about child killers – kids who murder. The two subjects of this were 14 and 15. Both were sentenced to life in prison with no parole, meaning they will die in there.
        If either of these two kids were suicidal, I could definitely appreciate that. The thought of spending the rest of your life behind bars would certainly create very real and valid feelings of not wanting to go on.
        People choose to opt out because they can’t see a path forward, a way out or any hope of change in their future. If we address the reasons that got them to this point in the first place then we have a chance to change their lives.

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