Govt announces suicide prevention office

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Health Dr David Clark at a press conference in...
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Health Dr David Clark at a press conference in Dunedin. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
The Government has announced it will set up an office dedicated to reducing suicide rates as it tries to tackle worsening statistics.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister David Clark today launched the Government's long-awaited plan for suicide prevention.

Suicide rates in New Zealand reached their highest levels since records began in the year to June, with deaths among youth, Māori and Pacific Island people rising sharply.

As part of its plan, the Government has unveiled it will set up a "Suicide Prevention Office" - one of the recommendations from a sweeping inquiry in the state of the country's mental health services.

The office will co-ordinate work between different government bodies to try to reduce suicide rates as well monitoring the Government's progress in the area.

It will initially be run out of the Ministry of Health before becoming a separate body run by a new "Director of Suicide Prevention". That appointment is expected to be made shortly.

The "Every Life Matters" plan replaces a previous government suicide prevention strategy that was in place until 2016 and aims to provide an overarching strategy for how to tackle the problem

Major updates include:

• Undertaking more research to get better data
• A focus on Māori leadership in suicide prevention
• Looking more specifically at-risk population groups
• Aiming to provide better support for bereaved families

"Our rate of suicide is a long-term national tragedy and has been for many years. Change will take time but this plan and the actions the Government has already in place are an important start," Arden said.

The Government included $1.9 billion of new funding for mental health over four years, including $40 million specifically put aside for suicide prevention in its May Budget .

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Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828-865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

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