“We are taking this matter very seriously” Canterbury University responds to weapons seizure after student suffers “catastrophic mental health breakdown”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Oct 23, 2023 |

Mental health support services located at end of this article

Canterbury University says it’s taking the incident involving a distressed student found with restricted weapons “very seriously.”

The man remains in custody after threatening his own life and being found with restricted weapons by the police early Thursday morning.

Officers were called to the Canterbury University residence Tupuanuku after the student made comments suggesting he intended to self harm a police spokesman said.

Initially police said the incident was “self-harm” related, which Chris Lynch Media doesn’t report.

In statement released on Monday, police said they located ammunition and weapons at the address, which were seized.

The 20-year-old man has been charged with possession of an offensive weapon and unlawful possession of firearms/restricted weapons.

On Monday afternoon, a police spokesman said “earlier reporting said guns were located, this is not correct.”

Chris Lynch Media understands there was a brief standoff between officers and the man before he was arrested.

The man was a strong opponent of the Government’s firearms legislation in 2019.

A person close to the incident said the man had suffered a “catastrophic mental health mental breakdown” and would be getting intensive support while in custody and when released.

A Canterbury University student said she was angry that the university hadn’t been more up front about what happened and said students living at the hall had a right to know what happened.

The university hall is run by Unilodge. Spokesman Matt Row said “We understand the matter in question is part of a Police investigation and is before the Court.

 “Accordingly, we will not be making comment at this time and ask that any questions regarding this matter be referred to the media contacts for these organisations.

 A University of Canterbury spokesperson told Chris Lynch Media “police attended an incident involving a person at Tupuānuku hall of residence in the early hours of Thursday.

“No-one was harmed, and we understand from Police there were no guns found or involved.

“As publicly discussing this affects a person’s rights and this is currently a Police matter, we are unable to comment further.

“Student and staff wellbeing and safety is important at UC and we are taking this matter very seriously.

“Unilodge, which manages the hall of residence, has been supporting those directly affected by Thursday’s incident.

“UC offers numerous student support services, and we encourage any student who needs support to make contact.

“Students who feel their assessment performance has been affected can apply for Special Consideration.

A Wellbeing Hub can be found centrally on campus, and the UC Health Centre offers free counselling to UC students. In addition, the Student Care Team is available to give advice and can direct students to ongoing support if needed. The UC Chaplaincy also provides help on request.

The man is scheduled to appear in Christchurch District Court on 25 October.

Mental health support

For urgent mental health support, phone Crisis Resolution 0800 920 092 or Lifeline 0800 543 354

All right?
If you are having a tough time or finding it hard to cope, it’s all right to ask for help. You are not alone – you can ring the Canterbury Support Line on 0800 777 846 and someone will talk with you and help work out what kind of support you may need.

  • Anxiety Support
    A non-profit organisation working for people who experience or support others who have any form of anxiety

  • Depression Helpline
    Understanding more about depression can help you find a way through. Call the Depression Helpline to talk to a trained counsellor about how you are feeling or to ask any questions. Freephone 0800 111 757.

  • Family Court Counselling
    This service is free for couples who are having problems with their relationship or are separating and need help reaching agreement on issues like childcare

  • Having suicidal thoughts?
    Information for you, and for family, whanau, friends and support networks

  • Healthline
    Free advice from trained registered nurses. Call 0800 611 116.

  • Lifeline
    A 24-hour counselling service. Call toll-free on 0800 543 354

  • Local Counselling Services
    Counselling is free for under 25 year olds at 298 Health Centre on Barbadoes Street. You can talk to your GP about getting a referral to other local counsellors or phone the NZ Association of Counsellors on +64 7 8340 220.

  • The Lowdown
    Helping young Kiwis understand and deal with depression. Take the self-test or get on the message board, send text messages for free to 5626, or email the
    [email protected]

  • Mental Health Advocacy and Peer Support (MHAPS)
    A peer-led, Christchurch-based charitable trust to assist people who experience mental distress/mental illness and/or addictions

  • Mental Health Education and Resource Centre (MHERC)
    A free mental health library and coordinating service for everyone in Christchurch and the South Island of New Zealand

  • Ministry of Health factsheets 
    Information on common mental illnesses, their symptoms and treatment

  • Sparx
    A free online tool to help young people aged 12-19 learn to deal with depression and anxiety

  • Suicide Prevention Line
    Provides support, information and resources to people at risk of suicide, family/whanau, friends affected by suicide and people supporting someone with suicidal thoughts and/or suicidal behaviours: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO).

  • Warmline
    A telephone peer support service for people experiencing mental illness living in Canterbury or the West Coast. Call 0800 899 276 (7pm-1am seven nights a week) for confidential non-crisis support

  • Youthline
    Provides development opportunities and confidential support for young people from all walks of life all over Aotearoa New Zealand. They are available to talk with young people no matter what is happening. Call 0800 37 66 33, free text 234 or email
    [email protected]

  • 298 Youth Health Centre
    Free medical care and counselling services for those aged 10-24yrs. Call (03) 943 9298.


Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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