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Majority of parties support suicide target inquiry

Majority of parties support suicide target and mental health inquiry

If parliament was sitting today, there would be a majority for setting a suicide reduction target and holding an independent inquiry into our mental health crisis, says bereaved mum Jane Stevens.

Greens, Internet Party, Labour, Maori Party, New Zealand First and United Future have responded to a letter from three mums who lost children to suicide asking for support for a suicide target, mental health inquiry and four other health pledges.

The National Party and Act Party didn’t respond to the mother’s request.

The six pledges were crowd-sourced by the YesWeCare.nz coalition and have the support of more than 200 bereaved families.

The six pledges are:

• Hold a mental health inquiry

• Restore $2.3b in health funding

• Set a suicide reduction target

• Increase primary health, GP funding

• Commit to safe staffing

• Make every home healthy

Stevens and her husband Dave MacPherson made the announcement today at the memorial of their son Nicky, who died from suicide in 2015 while in the care of a local mental health unit.

Mrs Stevens says bereaved families and supporters have gathered beside the Waikato river to put out 606 shoes representing each Kiwi lost to suicide and share stories of heartbreak and grief.

“Nicky loved to come here and play music with his friends,” she said. “This is where his memorial seat is as this is where we think he found peace.”

Stevens and MacPherson are strong advocates of an independent mental health inquiry.

“Our mental health system is in total crisis and it’s failing people right throughout the country,” she said. “You can’t move things forward until you are open about what the problem is and I think it important people are heard and respected.”

Holding an inquiry honours those who have been lost and allow the voices of the bereaved to be heard, Stevens said.

“The inquiry needs to address the delay into suicide death inquests, which we believe is preventing lives from being saved,” she said. “If we can contribute to stopping the epidemic of suicide in this country, we will do it, and we need the government to do their bit too.”

YesWeCare.nz coordinator Simon Oosterman says bereaved families will now launch a petition calling on the National Party and Act Party to support the pledges.

The petition asks Bill English and David Seymour to join bereaved families with 606 shoes at Parliament on10 September, International Suicide Prevention Day and a face-to-face meeting with families on 11 September, the first day of advanced voting.

Mrs Stevens and Mr MacPherson invite Bill English to speak with them at their son’s memorial, which is a chair.


ENDS


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