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Background to Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy

Background to the National Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy

In 1992 the Government responded to widespread public concern about New Zealand’s high youth suicide rate. It established a steering group to identify ways in which government agencies and communities could work to reduce the incidence of youth suicide.

In 1994 the steering group report – Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention - presented the policy recommendations and responses identified by each agency. Arising from this report was an identified need to develop a National Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy.

Two research papers were then commissioned to inform Government’s approach to a National Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy. They provided supporting evidence for the development of the National Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy (“the Strategy”). One report was written by Dr Annette Beautrais and the other by Keri Lawson-Te Aho and are attached for your information.

The Strategy was released in March 1998, a copy of which is attached for your information.

Youth Affairs led the development of the Strategy with the Ministry of Health and Te Puni Kökiri. On 1 July 1998 the leadership of the Strategy passed to the Ministry of Health. Health is co-ordinating Government’s implementation of the Strategy. Responsibility for responding to media enquires on youth suicide also passed to the Ministry of Health on 1 July 1998.

Consultation Process For Developing The Strategy

In order to develop a broad based strategy to address the complex issues that are associated with suicide, it was necessary to consult widely on the matter. The consultation preceded the development of the Strategy.

The consultation took place during 1997 in a range of locations throughout New Zealand. Meetings were organised with key individuals, special interest groups, social service group networks, youth workers and health workers. Specific hui and fono were also held with Mäori and Pacific peoples. Submissions were also invited from organisations and individuals.

The consultation process discussed the two draft prevention strategies (whole population and Mäori). On the basis of this consultation the strategies were adjusted.

The Strategy

The Strategy has two streams – In Our Hands and Kia Piki te Ora o te Taitamariki and provides a way of co-ordinating initiatives in the prevention of youth suicide. The document is designed to be used by central government, local government and community organisations

In Our Hands presents a series of goals and objectives. These goals are underpinned by the need to improve the information and research base to guide effective prevention approaches. The five goals are:

- promoting well being
- early identification and help
- crisis support and treatment
- support after a suicide
- information and research.

Kia Piki te Ora o te Taitamariki specifically supports Mäori efforts to reduce suicide among rangatahi Mäori. Kia Piki te Ora o te Taitamariki has been designed from a Mäori cultural development framework that recognises the priorities and preferences of Mäori individuals, whänau, hapü, iwi and communities. It has a strong community development approach focusing on promoting resilience factors, such as cultural identity and belonging. The five goals are:

- strengthening whänau, hapü, iwi and Mäori
- taitamariki development
- cultural development
- mainstream responsiveness
- information and research.

The Strategy is consistent with national strategies from overseas and the recommended framework of the United Nations. It has been developed with the input of a range of experts, both from New Zealand and overseas, and has been supported by a substantial consultation process.


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