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New 'all ages' Suicide Prevention Strategy

29 June 2006

Change in focus for new 'all ages' Suicide Prevention Strategy

Effective suicide prevention begins with shared knowledge and understanding of suicide and how to prevent it, which is one of the key themes supported by a new strategy released today.

"The new suicide prevention strategy will take an all-ages approach to suicide prevention," says Associate Health Minister and the Minister responsible for suicide prevention, Jim Anderton.

“About 500 people die each year in this tragic and preventable way. This is more than the number of people who die from road traffic crashes. Although the rate of suicide has decreased by 15 per cent since 1998 when it was at an all time high, there is still a lot more work that can be done, particularly for Maori, young adults and youth.

"Despite our growing sophistication in many areas in society, and a growing amount of research around suicide, we still have a long way to go to fully understand suicide, particularly in developing more effective ways of reducing the toll from suicide."

"Today is also the launch of the Suicide Research Network of New Zealand. There is a great deal of commitment in the sector and the research community to tackle this serious social and health issue. New Zealand was among the first countries in the world to develop a suicide prevention strategy - built on a sound evidence base. The Suicide Research Network will help make sure that we continue to develop from a strong evidence base.

"New Zealanders are pulling together to address the problem for ours and future generations.”

The New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy 2006-2016 replaces The New Zealand Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy.

“Because 80 per cent of deaths by suicide occur in those aged 25 and over, we need to take an all-ages approach to prevent it. The new strategy doesn’t preclude targeting youth, rather it recognises the growing need for a broader all-ages response to addressing suicidal behaviour.

"Suicidal behaviour is an issue that impacts on the whole of society, and thus requires a collaborative approach to prevent it. This includes both leadership and co-ordination across Government agencies and the active involvement of local communities," Jim Anderton said.

www.beehive.govt.nz/anderton www.progressiveparty.co.nz

BRIEF POINTS

The new strategy builds on the good work achieved by the youth suicide prevention strategy. It provides a framework for the next ten years and has seven goals, which will be implemented within two separate five-year action plans.

The goals are to:

1. Promote mental health and wellbeing, and prevent mental health problems
2. Improve the care of people who are experiencing mental disorders associated with suicidal behaviour
3. Improve the care of people who make non-fatal suicide attempts
4. Reduce access to the means of suicide
5. Promote the safe reporting and portrayal of suicidal behaviour by the media
6. Support the families/ whanau, friends and others affected by a suicide or suicide attempt
7. Expand the evidence about rates, causes and effective interventions.

If you are concerned about someone who may be suicidal or is very distressed, you can approach the following services for advice:

- Primary health care professional or general practitioner (GP)
- Community mental health service
- Counselling services
- Helplines such as Lifeline (0800 111 777), Samaritans (0800 726 666) or Youthline (0800 376 633)

In an emergency you should:

- Contact the nearest hospital or psychiatric emergency service/mental health crisis assessment team
- Ring 111 and ask for ambulance or police
- Remove any obvious means of suicide (guns, medication, cars, knives, rope, etc)

ENDS

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