Mental health helplines have been inundated with calls from people traumatised by the Christchurch terror attacks.

People who saw the gunman’s video on social media have been particularly affected.

The Mental Health Foundation’s chief executive, Shaun Robinson, claimed some of the media coverage was ghoulish and too detailed in depicting the horror.

“Helplines and help services were pretty inundated in that first two weeks following the shooting and there’s a big concern for the several thousand Kiwis who watched the online streaming of the event, so really experienced it through media.”

Robinson said they were trying to develop processes on a national basis to reach out to those people, including making available helplines such as 1737.

It was likely the country would be dealing with the consequences of the shooting to people’s wellbeing and mental health for years, he said.

People should limit their exposure to the media during horrific events, Robinson said.

He said there was saturation media coverage immediately after the shootings and the Mental Health Foundation, in conjunction with Homecare Medical and the Canterbury District Health Board, asked the media to limit disturbing coverage of the event.

“There’s no need to go into the horrific detail when reporting on something like this.

“It’s horrific enough that it has happened, but very graphic descriptions of what happened, chasing down people who were there, or first responders or witnesses, that starts to become quite ghoulish from the perspective of how media are treating a subject like this, and it really doesn’t add anything to the national response to this issue or the national recovery.”

Robinson said, by and large, the media heeded that advice and acted responsibly.

“While some people will definitely need some pretty intensive support, you know many of us will be able to work through these events, and if we focus on building our wellbeing then we’ll be able to get through this.”

Robinson said although not everybody would get post-traumatic stress syndrome from viewing such footage, just processing it emotionally and psychologically could take time and be upsetting to a lot of people.


If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.


• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland (24/7)
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (24/7)
• SAMARITANS – 0800 726 666
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email

There are lots of places to get support. For others, click here.


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