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Barnardos on new national Suicide Prevention Strategy

Barnardos says new national Suicide Prevention Strategy and Action Plan a crucial ingredient in driving change

Barnardos, Aotearoa New Zealand’s national children’s charitable NGO is today welcoming the new national Suicide Prevention Strategy and Action Plan.

Chief Executive Mike Munnelly says that Barnardos, which works with thousands of children, young people and their families and whānau every year, believes the new Strategy and Action Plan is a crucial ingredient in driving change, and it must be used to deliver that change.

“Suicide is a tragic reality affecting the lives of children, young people and their families and whānau in our country, currently at the highest rates ever recorded in New Zealand. We have the highest rate of youth suicide in the OECD, and our Māori rangatahi are dramatically overrepresented in this. Change is needed and it is needed urgently. It is our hope that the Suicide Prevention Strategy and Action Plan published by government today catalyses that change, and provides some effective ways forward for concerted action to help prevent any more children and young people taking their lives”, Mr Munnelly says.

Mr Munnelly says that because of the work that Barnardos does in communities around the country, it knows the significant negative impacts of suicide on children and young people, including when a parent, caregiver, friend or family member dies by suicide.

“Every day at Barnardos, especially through services like our helpline for children and teenagers, 0800 What’s Up, we are working with children and young people whose lives are affected by negative circumstances, which sometimes lead to them feeling like there’s no hope in their lives. All of us in Aotearoa have a role to play when it comes to helping ensure none of our children or young people, family and whānau members get to a point where they believe that there is no other option than suicide, but rather have a sense of hope for the future, and can access the right support when and if they need it, in ways that will work for them”, Mr Munnelly says.

Through its systemic advocacy grounded in insights from its own work supporting children, families and whānau, and informed by what it hears from children and young people themselves, Barnardos has been advocating for a new national suicide prevention strategy over the past few years, including to the previous government and as part of the current government’s Inquiry into Mental Health and Addictions.

Mr Munnelly says that the Strategy and Action Plan published today offers some hope. “Barnardos welcomes the emphasis in the Strategy and Action Plan on the importance of collective action to prevent suicide, that action must be whānau-centred, trauma-informed and holistic, and the clear message that every life matters. We also like the fact that the Strategy and Action Plan make clear that government has a vital role to play when it comes to supporting the wellbeing and hauora of our communities, including children, young people and their families and whānau. However, we also emphasise the importance of needing to ensure that approaches work effectively for tamariki and rangatahi, children and young people specifically.”

Barnardos says that through services like 0800 What’s Up and its wider work in the mental health arena working with children, young people and their families and whānau, it will continue contributing to preventing suicide in Aotearoa. Barnardos looks forward to opportunities to collaborate with government and community, hapū, iwi and other NGOs to ensure a future where there is no suicide in Aotearoa, especially among children and young people.


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