Prioritise your safety to avoid the possibility of further harm. Choose a safe place to go to and trusted people to be with.
After traumatic events, it's normal to find that you feel more anxious about your safety and others' safety too. Remember, you're not alone - our Support Workers and other community organisations are here to help you to work out the next steps you can take. We want everyone who has experienced a crime or traumatic event to feel safe and supported.
It's important to prioritise your safety. After traumatic events, it's normal to find that you feel more anxious about your safety and others' safety too. Remember, you're not alone - our Support Workers and other community organisations are here to help you to work out the next steps you can take. We want everyone who has experienced a crime or traumatic event to feel safe and supported.
If you or others have been injured, see a doctor, go to a hospital emergency department or call an ambulance on 111 regardless of whether you decide to report the incident or not.
A professional medical assessment can help your recovery and ensure physical safety.
Depending on the incident, consider having the doctor prepare a medical report that can be shared with police, if you are comfortable doing that.
We provide 24/7 free, confidential emotional and practical support and information to anyone affected by crime, suicide and traumatic events, including their whānau and witnesses. We are here for you in your time of crisis to help you feel empowered, make choices and access the services you need to feel safe and in control. We are here for you if you choose to report a crime and even if you don’t.
You can call us or visit our How we can help page to find out more about who we are, how we can help you and how to access our support.
If you have insurance, make an insurance claim as soon as you can. Your insurance company will explain what you need to do next. It may be making a list of missing or damaged items, keeping any damaged items in case they need to be assessed by the insurer or keeping receipts for the expenses resulting from the incident.
It’s common for insurance companies to investigate this kind of claim. You can help them by remembering and noting down as much as you can about any events leading up to or during the incident.
If you don't have insurance, it can take more time to get back on your feet, but support is available to help you cope through what’s happened.
Most people find that unexpectedly witnessing a crime or traumatic incident or discovering the aftermath is disturbing and distressing. Even if you weren’t physically harmed you may still be psychologically affected by what you have seen or heard.
Witnesses often experience a wide range of strong reactions including shock and disbelief, fear, horror, helplessness, anger or grief. You may be overwhelmed or perhaps numb and unable to feel anything at first. You may find you're asking yourself if you could have prevented it, done something different, or helped. You may replay the events in your mind and find it hard to stop distressing thoughts and images. It is common to feel guilty that you witnessed or discovered something so major in someone else’s life and that you were physically unharmed.
It is important to recognise that just because you weren’t directly involved, it doesn’t mean you won’t be affected by what happened. We are here for you if you need support.
For many, a ceremonial blessing of the site where a person has died is an essential part of processing the loss. It acknowledges of the spiritual impact of the tragedy and protects and guides the spirit of the deceased. It respects and honours the dignity of the deceased person, their family, whānau, and community.
For Māori, it can include lifting of the tapu on the site and karakia. Other cultural and faith groups have their own unique blessing ceremonies. Some family or whānau members may choose to visit the scene and be part of a blessing ceremony and others may not. They may prefer to hold a private blessing or open it to whomever would like to come, including from the community.
If you are an immediate family or whānau member wishing to organise a blessing for the site, you could contact your kaumātua, local marae, church or faith centre, the police officer who has been working with you, a Police Iwi Liaison Officer, or speak to a Support Worker.
If you don't personally know the family or whānau but witnessed or discovered the incident, you can speak to a Support Worker if you'd like to attend a blessing, provided it is open to the public and the family or whānau are comfortable with that.
Call the police non-emergency number on 105
Fill in a New Zealand Police 105 report
Find your local police station - Talk to the person at the front counter and they will advise you about what to do. If your nearest station is a small or rural station, call 105 to make sure someone is there to help you. You may want to take a trusted person with you for support.
You may consider speaking to someone you trust for advice like a family or whānau member, close friend, community or cultural leader, or your Victim Support Worker.
You can anonymously report the incident by phone or by submitting an online form to Crime Stoppers.
Manaaki Tāngata | Victim Support
Call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected to a Support Worker for assistance.
Support through the criminal justice system
Look in this directory to find a New Zealand lawyer
If you are experiencing family violence and harm, consider making a safety plan. This is a plan of future actions you can take to keep you and your family and whānau members safe if you feel threatened or are in immediate danger. Everyone’s situation is different; Manaaki Tāngata | Victim Support and other local support services can help you to prepare an individual plan that works for you, when the time is right.
Reporting what happened to police as soon as possible can keep you or others from experiencing further harm but you can still report a crime to police regardless of how long ago it happened.
Support is here for you when things get tough. You don't have to face it alone. Reach out to these confidential and non-judgmental services to discuss your situation and get the help you need.
The unexpected death of someone close is always hard, but the death of someone by a suspected suicide can be especially painful, confronting and unsettling. You may have found the person or witnessed what happened. It may have been a person close to you or a person you didn’t know. It is a uniquely difficult experience and the sense of loss and grief that follows can be intense.
Early reactions to the news often include shock, disbelief, and numbness. It may take time to determine if the death was a suicide or caused by other factors. In an attempt to make sense of what’s happened, some individuals may find themselves needing to find answers to profound spiritual and life questions.
The investigation process, involvement of coronial services, and potential media attention can further heighten stress levels. Despite reduced stigma surrounding suicide today, families and whānau may still face judgment or shame, and individuals may struggle with feelings of self-judgment or whakamā. These external pressures can make the grieving and healing process more difficult.
Finding some extra support at this time could help ease some of the pain of this traumatic experience. Many people bereaved by suicide say that while they appreciated help early on, they also needed support later; emotional support and practical help when they needed it. The support of trusted family, whānau and close friends who listen and care for you, can help you feel less alone knowing someone is there to support you.
Many people and agencies become involved after a suicide or suspected suicide. They understand how distressing this time is and will support you through it respectfully and with care. Our highly trained Support Workers have in-depth knowledge of the impact a suicide death can have on people, the services available, and the legal processes that must follow. We are here to help, you don’t have to go through this alone.
The law requires the police to investigate the cause of every sudden unexplained death on behalf of the coroner. They must make sure no one else was involved in the person’s death. Sometimes it can be unclear if a death was by suicide or another cause. To investigate, they must ask questions and will speak to any witnesses and those who discovered the death. They are also likely to speak with close family, whānau, and friends of the person who died.
After a traumatic experience, people’s memories can sometimes be a bit foggy or uncertain. Things that happened can seem like a blur. Take your time and do your best to tell the police anything that might be able to help.
The police will remain at the scene until a forensic investigation is conducted. During this time, they will take photographs and collect evidence. On occasion, they might need to take personal items, but these will be recorded and returned later. Understand that this investigation can be distressing, but it is a necessary part of their duties. It's a good idea to note down the name and contact information of the officer you speak to, in case you have further questions.
When police visit a family or whānau, they will organise a Support Worker to attend with them or to be in touch as soon as possible to ensure good support is provided during this tragic time.
If you’d also like the support of a specialist Iwi, Pacific or Ethnic Liaison Officer to listen to any cultural concerns you may have, ask the Officer in Charge of your case to contact one for you.
To formally confirm the identity of the person who has died, the police may also ask you, or another trusted person who knew them well, to assist them to do this.
It's important to be vigilant for warning signs of suicidal thinking, especially when someone has been bereaved by suicide. It is not uncommon for thoughts of suicide to arise in their own mind during this challenging time, which can put those who are especially vulnerable at risk. Additionally, after experiencing a suicide loss, you may become more aware of the well-being of others.
Here are some warning signs to watch for:
If you notice these warning signs in someone, it is crucial to take them seriously and seek immediate help from professionals, helplines specialising in suicide prevention, or 111 emergency services if someone is in immediate danger.
Ask your employer about any workplace support available such as bereavement leave, EAP services (Employee Assistance Programmes) for counselling and well-being support, or discretionary leave to help you through the tragedy.
Sharing the difficult news of a suicide is challenging and it’s hard to hear. This section offers some suggestions to help you manage the process.
It’s important that family, whānau, and friends close to the person hear the news and details about what is known as soon as possible. This is best coming from someone who can do this in a sensitive way and, if possible, it should be done in person or by phone, rather than by text or an online message.
You might want to tell people yourself, or you could ask a trusted member of the family or whānau, or a friend to help do this. It can be hard to deal with other people's reactions so having support can help.
It's helpful to make a list of the people who need to be informed as soon as possible and others who can be informed at a later date, and to discuss with your family or whānau what information should be shared and what should be kept private.
Prepare a few words to say in advance. You could say something like ‘I’m sad to tell you that xx has died unexpectedly. It looks like they have taken their own life, but we’re not sure and it’s being investigated.’
Shock can make bad news hard to take in. You may find yourself needing to repeat what you’ve said and people may respond with comments, questions, and a desire for answers. They may also have had a close relationship with the person who has died and are trying to make sense of the situation.
Remember that you are not obligated to provide information or answer questions that you are not comfortable with. It is perfectly acceptable to let people know that you do not wish to discuss certain details or that you need time before sharing more.
Shock can also lead to some individuals feeling unsure about what to say, and they may unintentionally say or do things that are hurtful so having support when you share the news can help.
It can be incredibly hard to tell such sad news to a child or young person. Being honest with them early on protects them from later hearing the news insensitively or incorrectly from others. What they can understand and the questions they’ll ask will depend on their age and stage of development.
Be careful if you share the news on social media or the internet and you may want to consider taking a break from social media.
People may offer immediate support, such as helping with daily tasks or errands, which can be kind and beneficial. However, it's important to remember that it's okay to feel overwhelmed and to need some personal space during this time. You can accept offers of help if you feel comfortable, but it's also acceptable to politely decline and express your need for space.
To create a sense of privacy and provide yourself with time to process and grieve, consider using a voicemail message or automatic email reply to communicate that you may be unavailable. You can also postpone reading and responding to letters and messages until you're ready.
If needed, ask visitors to keep their visits brief or indicate on your door that you prefer no visitors. You could also ask someone trusted to deal with calls and visitors on your behalf.
By making these choices, you can give yourself space to think and grieve as you cope with the news yourself.
Under law in Aotearoa New Zealand, the media must follow certain restrictions about what they can report if a death appears to have been by suicide. These rules exist to reduce the chance of further suicides in the community.
The media cannot make public:
For most people, the news of suicide will come as an intense shock. You may have found the person or witnessed what happened or it may have been a person you didn’t know. It also might be unclear for some time if the death was a suicide or by another cause.
If you have lost someone close to you or someone you know to suicide, you may be overwhelmed by a mixture of grief, trauma and intense emotions. Suicide not only involves the reactions common to sudden death, but also unique complexities, including:
Guilt and self-blame
Survivors may believe they should have seen the signs and could have somehow prevented the suicide. Or you may blame or be blamed by others. Guilt can be particularly challenging to process, and you may replay “what if” and “if only” scenarios in your mind.
Shame and stigma
You may be negatively affected by your own beliefs or the beliefs of others around suicide. Some people may express negative reactions or judgements toward you, or may avoid you altogether, because they don’t understand suicide or how it affects you. You may feel shame or whakamā and isolated from others at a time when you really need their support.
Anger and confusion
You may feel anger towards the person who died for their choice or for leaving you, the mental health system or others, or towards yourself for missing clues about their distress or suicidal intentions. Grappling with the question of “why?” is one of the hardest aspects of suicide. You may have unanswered questions and struggle to make sense of your loss. Not every question can be answered easily, and this can be deeply frustrating. You may find they have some big spiritual and life questions.
You may feel a sense of relief that the person has died if you knew they were suffering from some time.
Bereaved children and young people will need ongoing attention, care, reassurance, and loving support from those around them. What they can understand and the questions they’ll ask will depend on their age and stage of development. As children and young people grow and develop, they will respond to their loss in news ways. They may ask new questions sometimes, even years after the death.