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Suicide March Highlights Youth Need

Media Release
For Immediate Use

13 May 2008

Suicide March Highlights Youth Need

Today’s public march in Auckland highlights the importance of asking for and getting help when it is needed, says the Mental Health Commission.

The mother of 17 year old Auckland teenager Toran Henry, who was found dead last month, organised a march up Auckland’s Queen St at midday to raise the public’s awareness of suicide.

Mental Health Commissioner Ray Watson says it’s clearly a very difficult time for Toran’s family.

“The Commission joins others in acknowledging the loss experienced by this young man’s family,” he says. “It’s such a tragic event.

“We need an environment in which it’s all right for young people to seek help when they need it. We need to do everything we can to prevent the loss of more young lives.”

Toran Henry’s death is being investigated by the school he attended, Takapuna Grammar, by police, and also by the Waitemata District Health Board after criticism of the mental health care it gave the teenager.

Ray Watson says the Waitemata District Health Board is reviewing its handling of Toran’s situation and he is confident its review will be both comprehensive and robust. He understands the review team includes an external expert in child psychology.

Statistics show that approximately 500 people a year commit suicide, many of them young people, and several thousand people are hospitalised each year for intentional self-harm.


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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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