Suicide Prevention Group Calls for Royal Commission
Suicide Prevention Group Calls for Royal Commission into Youth Suicide
CASPER (Community Action on Suicide Prevention Education & Research) is renewing its calls for a Royal Commission into youth suicide in New Zealand. New Zealand has the highest rate of youth suicide in the OECD, twice the rate of the US and Australia and five times the rate of the UK. More young people in New Zealand die of suicide than all medical causes combined with 10% of the deaths of our 10-14 year olds being suicides.
International research shows that New Zealand’s approach to suicide prevention actually increases rather than decreases suicide. It is unacceptable that the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser’s recent report supports continuing with our current strategy despite its obvious failure to prevent suicide and evidence that it in fact causes serious harm. While the report states that it would be unwise to change our current approach, the evidence is clear that it will be fatal for a large number of children if that approach is not changed.
Suicide is not about young people who are mentally ill, it is not about bad, ignorant, abusive parents, it is not about individual schools. It is about the fact that we have created the perfect social environment in this country for suicide to flourish and for youth to choose death rather than life.
Professor Gluckman’s report on youth mental health and suicide is poorly researched and does little more than perpetuate myths and stereotypes based on outdated and methodologically flawed studies. It sheds more light on the conflicts of interest of the authors, including Professor Gluckman, than it does on the reality of suicide. The involvement of the authors in commercial enterprises casts doubt on their ability to objectively review the data on this issue.
It is time an independent enquiry into suicide in New Zealand is undertaken by those whose financial fortunes and career advancement are not dependent on maintenance of current strategies. Until we stop blaming suicide victims and their families and take a long hard look at our social environment our children will continue to die unnecessary, preventable and tragic self inflicted deaths.
As parents who have lost children to suicide and who have repeatedly called for a review of current approaches, it is heartbreaking to have the lessons learned from our children’s deaths ignored and to watch other parents suffer the same agonising loss. Anything else killing so many children would be declared an epidemic and given the highest priority for urgent action. There are no good reasons to delay a comprehensive, independent review into suicide in New Zealand.