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Government addressing youth drug and suicide issue

Government addressing youth drug and suicide issues

The way recently released OECD figures ranking nations on their youth suicide and drugs figures have been used is misleading says Jim Anderton who is leading the Labour Progressive Government Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy and chairing the Ministerial Action Group on alcohol and Drugs.

“OECD figures released yesterday drew on data from the late 1990s, and New Zealand’s youth suicide rate has declined significantly since then. The rate has dropped from 13.6 per 100,000 young people under the age of 25 in 1998, to 7.11 per 100,000 in 2000. In 2000, the lowest number of youth suicides was recorded since 1986.

“Some of the figures in the OECD report for some countries are nearly 10 years old.

“The figures on drugs use United Nations’ figures which are based on 98 and 99 figures which are not youth figures and do not match figures from the New Zealand National Drug Survey’s in 1998 or 2001.

“The New Zealand youth suicide prevention strategy and national drug policy are already in place and additional measures are being developed to lessen the impact on our young people. “While we have made significant progress we need to do better. The Labour Progressive Government is committed to trying to reduce youth suicide and address drug and alcohol misuse, both of which were highlighted in the Government’s programme of action in the speech from the throne.

Existing Government measures that may have contributed to the decline in youth suicide include: community and youth development initiatives for young people a range of mental health promotion programmes, including components in the school curriculum professional training and guidelines to support early identification and appropriate help for young people at risk resources for the media, parents and young people guidelines for mental health services and hospital emergency departments the development of early intervention mental health services for young people postvention training and support for schools increased funding for SPINZ and expansion of this service ongoing processes to improve data quality and timeliness the Ministry of Health Kia Piki Te Ora O te Taitamariki project rangatahi health and well-being projects Maori capacity building and Improved job opportunities together with better future prospects.

The Ministerial Action Group on Alcohol and Drugs is responsible for the Government’s campaign to minimize harm caused by alcohol and illicit drug use.

The intention of this Government to take action to protect New Zealanders, particularly young New Zealanders, from the effects of drug and alcohol misuse by using a whole-of-Government strategy to address these issues.

The plan will focus on reducing demand, controlling supply and limiting problems associated with alcohol and drug use. A number of announcements were made late in 2002 and more are to follow in 2003 as the Ministerial Action Group assesses responses to a draft action plan circulated late last year.

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