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Foundation Welcomes New Suicide Prevention Strategy

Tuesday 10 September

Mental Health Foundation Welcomes New Suicide Prevention Strategy

It’s World Suicide Prevention Day, and the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand (MHF) is glad to welcome New Zealand’s new suicide prevention strategy – Every life matters.

“We congratulate the Government on a strong, innovative strategy that envisions a future where the devastating impact of suicide is no longer felt in Aotearoa,” MHF chief executive Shaun Robinson says.

“Most New Zealanders are aware of the devastation suicide is causing in our communities,” Mr Robinson says. “But it is preventable, and this new strategy gives us the roadmap and tools we need to prevent it. Not only this, it will help to ensure New Zealanders have lives worth living – it does not seek simply to keep people alive but to build an Aotearoa where everyone can enjoy good mental health and wellbeing.”

The MHF is also glad to see the strategy emphasises the importance of developing solutions and responses to suicide that are tailored to our diverse and unique communities.

The Foundation welcomes the strategy’s focus on:
• Early support – ensuring mental health problems do not have to escalate before help is available
• Supporting the whānau and communities of those at risk
• A commitment to listening to and learning from people who have lived experience of being suicidal and those who are suicide bereaved
• Investing in kaupapa Māori approaches (which are already operating with success around Aotearoa)
• Investing in Pasifika approaches
• Workforce development for those who work in mental health and suicide prevention, and the development
• Trauma-informed care – care that looks at patients as people, works to understand what has happened to them and works in partnership with them toward recovery
• A commitment to honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi
• Investment in counselling for those who are bereaved by suicide
• A focus on evidence-informed using evidence and collective knowledge to make a difference
• Promoting wellbeing – it is essential to invest in the wellbeing of all New Zealanders, ensuring we each have the tools and skills we need to draw on when times get tough and helping us to enjoy good mental health most of the time.
While the Foundation shares the disappointment of many in the Māori and mental health communities that there is no specific Māori suicide prevention strategy, it acknowledges the strategy has strengthened its commitment to Māori and has a strong focus on reducing inequities and improving mental health outcomes for Māori. The Foundation is glad to see the strategy specifically acknowledges the need to promote Māori ownership of Māori wellbeing and suicide prevention and is committed to building on the strengths and leadership of Māori whānau, hapū, iwi and communities.

Māori communities bear a disproportionate burden of suicide. Evidence and history demonstrate this will not change without empowering and resourcing Māori whānau, iwi and communities to work to develop their own solutions.

“We strongly encouraged the Government to recognise Tūramarama ki te ora as a separate Māori suicide prevention strategy,” MHF alliance builder Michael Naera says.

“We’re disappointed they have chosen not to do so but are glad to see the strategy Every Life Matters supports the vision and solutions outlined in Tūramarama ki te Ora.”

Finally, the Foundation is extremely supportive of the establishment of the new Suicide Prevention Office.

“We’ve had a vacuum of leadership in suicide prevention for years,” MHF chief executive Shaun Robinson says. “That’s caused tremendous pain, division within the sector, fractured services and poorer mental health outcomes for some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable people.”

The MHF hopes the new office will not only work to deliver the strategy but to coordinate suicide prevention efforts around the country, ensuring strong, coordinated leadership at all levels and across all sectors: across Government, within health, education and social sectors, and in communities.
“We understand why it’s taken so long for this new strategy to be released but we join most of New Zealand in feeling huge relief that it’s out there now,” Mr Robinson says. “We can all start working on it today.”


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