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Saving Lives Is More Important Than Saving Dollars

Hon Jim Anderton

Member of Parliament for Wigram

Progressive Leader

Saving Lives Is More Important Than Saving Dollars

22 August 2010

Progressive leader and Wigram MP Jim Anderton has criticised the government for cutting counselling services for people in Christchurch and other parts of New Zealand who have lost family members to suicide.

“As Associate Minister of Health in charge of the suicide prevention programme, in the last Labour-led government, I introduced these new support services so that experienced clinical psychologists and Victim Support workers had the resources to help families after they have lost a loved one to suicide,” Jim Anderton said.

“It’s not just because it’s the humane and right thing to do - to help people at the worst time of their lives - but because research shows that there is a very real danger of other members of a family committing suicide unless they get the help they need after the loss, by suicide, of a family member.

“It is an outrage that the National Government thinks it is no big deal to cut the only ‘Help Line’ that these families have for the sake of saving about $3 million dollars.

“What makes it even worse is that the number of recorded suicide deaths is on a downward trend since we introduced these programmes. We’re having some success. Now is not the time to stop.”

Whilst the number of recorded suicide deaths remain high, there has been a significant downward trend in recent years.

From a high of 516 deaths in 1999, this had fallen to 483 deaths in 2007. Among young people, those aged 15 to 24 years, the trend was more marked dropping from 120 deaths in 1999 to 94 in 2007 – a drop of 46.6%.

“Unlike the road toll the factors causing people to attempt suicide are complex. That’s why we need a range of initiatives and responses to prevent people attempting suicide and to support families when they lose a loved one.”

In 2007, research showed that grief after a suicide can raise a wide range of issues for those affected, including the need for information about suicide and mental health problems, the need for social and emotional support, and access to counselling and therapy.

“To pull the rug on funding for counselling services when we know we’re getting results and saving lives, is unforgivable”, Jim Anderton said.

ENDS

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