Have Ma¯ ori been heard in in­quiry?

Sunday Star-Times - - Focus -

there is less than a 20 per cent re­duc­tion, what then? We shouldn’t have to wait so long for this tar­get. Where is the science be­hind the choices of 20 per cent and 2030.

We have a strat­egy for pest­free NZ by 2050 for cry­ing out loud. That sug­gests to me that we care more about be­ing pest­free than be­ing sui­cide-free. Is it re­ally eas­ier to have such clar­ity about a pest-free NZ?

You might be think­ing, hang on, we can never be sui­cide­free. But I take real is­sue with that idea. This is not some­thing I have made up – es­teemed peo­ple, like Dr Ed Cof­fey, have been ad­vo­cat­ing for zero sui­cide for years. He says zero sui­cide is pos­si­ble if you be­lieve it can be done. Be­lief and ac­tion­ing of ro­bust sup­port sys­tems which use the con­sid­er­able ev­i­dence for re­duc­ing sui­cide can make this a re­al­ity.

We need to get real by ap­ply­ing the ev­i­dence we al­ready have. We know if you are poor, you are more likely to kill your­self. Your post­code is more im­por­tant that your ge­netic code in terms of your ex­pe­ri­ence of health and your health out­comes.

And we need to strive for per­fect care for those ex­pe­ri­enc­ing men­tal ill­ness and their wha¯ nau.

It’s ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal Ma¯ ori have de­ter­mi­na­tion over our own so­lu­tions. We needed our voice in the re­port – and I needed to hear Maru’s voice. Com­bin­ing Ma¯ ori and Pasi­fika is not ev­i­dence-based and it smacks of ex­pe­di­ency.

We want ac­cess to Ma¯ ori so­lu­tions com­ing from Ma¯ ori wha¯ nau and we have plenty of ro­bust Ma¯ ori schol­ar­ship to sup­port that. I can­not imag­ine our tu¯ puna tol­er­at­ing the idea of any moumou tan­gata, of any pre­cious lives be­ing wasted, if they could com­ment on the re­port.

My brother’s death – like that of all the other brothers, sis­ters, cousins, mums, and dads who com­mit­ted sui­cide – are ev­i­dence and statis­tics. Maybe it is eas­ier to turn away from this hor­rific avalanche if they con­tinue to re­main just num­bers. We must hold onto the hu­man­ity of­ten hid­den in the data.

So for all those we have lost, let’s fi­nally draw a line in the sand and have a brave goal. Let’s chase sui­cide out of Aotearoa.

There’s no diplo­matic way to put this – it’s the wrong tar­get. This says there’s an ac­cept­able level of pre­ventable death.

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