In New Zealand, it is illegal to incite or encourage another person to take their own life, even if they don’t attempt to harm themselves. This includes digital communications (text, email, social media messages etc.) or offline communications (for example, encouraging someone to hurt themselves in person). The Harmful Digital Communications Act made changes to the Crimes Act in 2015 which now make it illegal to encourage or incite anyone to suicide, even if they do not actually attempt to harm themselves
If someone is sending these types of messages using digital communications, Netsafe can provide help and provide assistance. As this behaviour is illegal in New Zealand, you can also report this to the New Zealand Police if it is happening online or offline.
What to do if someone is sending these types of messages
If someone is encouraging you to hurt yourself, here are a few steps to take:
- Don’t respond to the person sending the communications
- Collect a record of the communications using screenshots or save the URL if the content is still live
- Report the content and the account it’s being sent from to the platform that it’s on
- Contact Netsafe for further advice and to talk about the options available to you
We can provide advice if this is happening to you, or a friend or family member. If it’s happening to someone you know, you could also support them to contact Netsafe.
Read more about how to collect a record of online communications.
If you think you or someone else’s life is in immediate danger, you should call 111.
- Call 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)
- Email [email protected]
- Complete an online report form
- Text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282
Our contact centre is open 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday, and 9am – 5pm on weekends.
What does it look like to incite or encourage someone to end their life?
For example, a message that says “You are worthless, why don’t you just kill yourself” or “Just go and kill yourself” may be interpreted as encouraging suicide.
How long has encouraging suicide been illegal for?
In 2015, the introduction of the Harmful Digital Communications Act made changes to the Crimes Act which now make it illegal to encourage or incite anyone to suicide, even if they do not actually attempt to harm themselves. Before the introduction of the Harmful Digital Communications Act, a person had to take their own life, or attempt to take their own life for a law to have been broken. Netsafe has been chosen by the New Zealand government to provide people in New Zealand with assistance under the Harmful Digital Communications Act.
What is the punishment for encouraging someone to suicide?
The legislation says that someone could be sentenced to up to 3 years imprisonment for inciting someone to suicide.
Help with suicidal thoughts
If you or someone you know are having thoughts of self-harm or suicide you should seek help immediately. Talk to a person close to you, or contact a help service;
- Lifeline: 0800 543 354 – Provides 24 hour telephone counselling
- Youthline: 0800 376 633 or free text 234 – Provides 24 hour telephone and text counselling services for young people
- Samaritans: 0800 726 666 – Provides 24 hour telephone counselling.
- Tautoko: 0508 828 865 – provides support, information and resources to people at risk of suicide, and their family, whānau and friends.
- Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (noon to midnight)
- Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm – 6pm weekdays)
The Mental Health Foundation also have advice and resources about suicide prevention on their website.
MORE ADVICE AND INFORMATION
Contact Netsafe if you’d like further help: