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Government Suicide Action Plan Welcomed

Media Release
For Immediate Use

17 March 2008

Government Suicide Action Plan Welcomed

The Mental Health Commission welcomes today’s announcement of a Government action plan to tackle suicide.

About 500 people a year commit suicide, and many more are hospitalised each year for intentional self-harm. The Suicide Prevention Action Plan outlined by the Associate Minister of Health, Jim Anderton, aims to pull together suicide prevention efforts over the next five years.

Mental Health Commissioner Ray Watson says a coordinated strategic approach to guide the work of agencies and researchers working in the field of suicide prevention is crucial.

“The death of a loved one by suicide is hugely traumatic and anything that helps prevent this happening is very welcome,” he says.

“We need to build a society where support is available when it’s needed for individuals, their whanau and communities.

“Statistics show New Zealand’s suicide rate has fallen significantly in the past decade but the Mental Health Commission and others would clearly like that figure to drop further.”

Ray Watson says the Mental Health Commission contributes to suicide prevention activities by promoting mental health and wellbeing, and by reducing stigma and discrimination against people who have experienced mental illness.


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Background about the Mental Health Commission:

The Mental Health Commission was established as a ministerial committee in response to the recommendations of the 1996 Mason Inquiry into Mental Health Services. In April 1998 it became a Crown entity. Its term has been extended three times, the most recent in August 2007, when its term was extended to 2015. At that time, the Commission’s functions were reframed to align with the future direction of the mental health and addiction sector.

The Mental Health Commission’s functions as defined by the Mental Health Commission Amendment Act 2007 are to:

* advocate for the interests of people with mental illness and their families generally (rather than for individuals or groups), while taking into account the interests of other stakeholders;

* promote and facilitate collaboration and communication about mental health issues;

* work independently and with others to promote better understanding of mental illness by the community, reduce the stigma and prejudice associated with mental illness, and to eliminate inappropriate discrimination on the grounds of mental illness;

* monitor, and to report to and advise the Minister on the implementation of the national mental health strategy;

* stimulate and support the development of integrated and effective methods or systems of providing care;

* stimulate and to do research into any matter relevant to mental illness.

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