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Time For Action On Suicide Prevention

27 August 2011

Time For Action On Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Group CASPER says the time for the Prime Minister to take real and urgent action on suicide is now, not when another 140 people have killed themselves between now and the election. Two people will kill themselves today. Another two will kill themselves tomorrow and two more the day after. What possible justification do we have in saying we will deal with this after the election? What else could kill 11 New Zealander’s every week and not be seen as a national disaster?

Many of those who die between now and November will be too young to vote. Their families will be too traumatised function let alone cast their ballot. Suicide numbers and rates are rising, children as young as six years old are killing themselves and 11 times every week a New Zealand family finds a loved one hanging from a noose, covered in blood from self-inflicted stab wounds or multilated under the wheels of a train. What more is necessary for the government to take some real action on this issue?

CASPERis restating calls for a commission of enquiry into suicide in New Zealand. The group supports Prime Minister John Key’s stated intention to review suicide prevention policy in New Zealand but does not believe that review should be undertaken within the Prime Minister’s department.

Successive New Zealand governments have been given very poor advice from officials and advisers over the past 20 years which have led us to the appalling situation we now face. Another review, using the same old people with the same outdated and incorrect views, won’t fix this problem.

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Yesterday’s claims that 90% of those who kill themselves are mentally ill and calls to pour more money into a mental health system that has been shown by international research to increase rather than decrease suicide deaths, reflect outdated thinking and failed ideology. Its time the researchers and advisers on whom the government relies got out from behind their mountains of methodologically flawed research and into the real world. These people have had their day. Their policies have failed and our children are dead as a result.

No one who deals with the reality of suicide on a daily basis believes anything but that our current system is a total and absolute failure. We, the families of the dead, will not stand by and watch these people ask for more taxpayer money to fund programmes that directly contributed to the suicides of our children.

A large body of recent research shows that suicide is caused by groups and individuals lacking a sense of belonging and of making a valued contribution. It shows that people feeling this way overcome the fear of taking their lives through the use of alcohol, illegal and prescription drugs and an immunity to fear and pain caused by repeated exposure to painful life events such as child abuse and domestic violence.

The fact that in natural disasters such as the Christchurch earthquake suicide virtually ceases, is not because earthquakes magically cure mental illness but because community cohesion removes the desire to die in marginalised people.

The vast majority of those who die from suicide do not have a diagnosis of a mental illness before death. Instead they are labelled mentally ill after death by psychiatrists who conduct mental health assessments on dead people in a process known as a ‘psychological autopsy.’ Anyone who has had feelings of sadness, has used alcohol inappropriately or broken rules is diagnosed after death with depression, substance abuse disorder or conduct disorder and mental health ‘experts’ hold our their hands for more money to ‘treat suicide.’

Research across countries by the World Health Organisation has shown that increasing mental health spending does nothing to reduce suicide and that mental health initiatives actually increase suicide rates.

CASPER has strong evidence that suicide prevention should be relocated back with family and community and focus on addressing the social drivers of suicide. The organisation will release an alternative to the government’s current suicide prevention strategy on September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day.


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