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Bereaved families denied chance to input into strategy

Suicide Bereaved Whānau Network

3 July 2019

Suicide Bereaved families denied chance to input into governments new suicide prevention strategy.

Tena koutou Sonja

The Press are already reporting today on the Every Life Matters Suicide Prevention Strategy.

We are incredibly saddened that we have been denied a reasonable opportunity to provide our feedback to the suicide prevention strategy “Every Life Matters”

This is especially concerning as the document has a significant focus on bereaved families, and we were all significantly involved in the campaign by parents whose children have died by suicide to call for action on preventing suicide.

As you are aware, we are all part of the Suicide Bereaved Whanau Network, and have all lost sons (Ross Taylor, Harry McLean and Nicky Stevens) to death by suicide, who were in the care of Mental Health Services. Through our lived experience, and the trauma that comes with being bereaved by suicide, we have a unique and important voice in Suicide Prevention, and Bereaved Support.

We were all actively involved in the lead up to the last General Election, in the absolutely vital need for a Mental Health Inquiry. We met with the Minister of Health David Clark after the elections, and all worked with the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry Panel as it travelled around New Zealand, gathering stories, from those with lived experience.

When we contacted you last week, we were shocked that we had not been offered the opportunity to provide feedback. It took three days for you to respond to our request, and the very last minute offer for us to have input was disrespectfully short and over a weekend - it was impossible to meet. We are now left with the strong impression that Ministry of Health does not value our input.

Our voices are important; we have all made the very brave decision to talk openly about our sons’ deaths and our grief, and we actively work for change in the area of Mental Health Care and Suicide Awareness and Prevention. Can you appreciate how hard it is for us, to keep pushing through the silence and the pain of grief and keep moving forward?

We are not here as a roadblock, and we are not here to disrupt your self-imposed deadlines out of spite. We are passionate about the need for change, and are doing everything that we can, to highlight the issues, and prevent other families from also becoming Suicide Bereaved.

We do believe that “Every Life Matters” can provide a message of hope and confidence to the general public when you actively include groups like the Suicide Bereaved Whanau Network and Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust in your discussions.

Your draft plan states that if we are to achieve your vision, we must all commit to the strategy to guide our work moving forward; and that if we are to have greater impact, working together towards a shared vision is paramount.

This implies a sense of ownership and inclusion; however in our experience, the Ministry of Health is not delivering on this vision by excluding some of the most important voices from the conversation.

Ngā mihi

Corinda Taylor, Maria Dillon and Jane Stevens

cc. MoH: suicideprevention@health.govt.nz

cc. Minister of Health: David.Clark@parliament.govt.nz


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