MHF responds to draft Suicide Prevention Strategy

5 Jul, 2017

The Mental Health Foundation has had its say on the Government’s plan to change New Zealand’s approach to mental health.

The MHF has made four submissions, in collaboration with other organisations, researchers and communities, after the Government asked for public feedback on its draft Suicide Prevention Strategy in April. The submissions outline why the Government’s plan fails to present a strong, ambitious vision to tackle what it says could be New Zealand’s biggest public health issue.

The MHF believes the way forward is through a focus on shared goals and accountability, and is calling for a national commitment to reduce the suicide rate by 20% over the next 10 years. It’s also advocating for an approach that recognises the range of roles and responsibilities everyone has in preventing the prevalence of suicide.

During the consultation process, the MHF called a meeting with non-government organisations, healthcare providers and suicide prevention researchers to discuss sector views about the strategy. A collective submission from this meeting calls for a real commitment from the Government to listen to people affected by suicide and build on what is working.

The MHF also co-hosted three public meetings to help ensure the Ministry of Health heard from a range of voices from people who have lost loved ones to suicide, and from rainbow (sexuality, sex and gender diverse) communities.

The Suicide Bereavement Advisory Group, which has been advising the MHF’s work in suicide prevention and bereavement support for the last three years, made a submission outlining where the strategy needs to be strengthened for people who have lost loved ones to suicide. It asks the Government to listen and learn from people with experience of suicide loss, and calls for more support for friends and families after a suicide death.

Evidence shows rainbow New Zealanders are at significantly higher risk of suicide due to social exclusion and discrimination. A submission outlining these issues was signed by 19 rainbow groups and 65 individuals. They’re asking the Government to recognise the rainbow population as a priority, and provide more support by addressing discrimination, creating safer school environments and ensuring health and social services are welcoming.

Public consultation on the draft strategy has now closed. The submissions will help to guide and inform Government agencies as they form the final framework which is expected to be published in late 2017.