The Post

Stopping suicide focus of Government’s draft plan

- Jessica McAllen

The Government’s new plan for a future with ‘‘no suicide’’ includes a national prevention office, a dedicated bereaved counsellin­g service, and new guidelines for social media.

The draft suicide prevention plan would finally replace a plan scuttled in the lead-up to the 2017 election, which left the sector without clear direction.

It has not been released publicly but Stuff has obtained a copy.

The new strategy and action plan, named Every Life Matters, does not set a hard target for suicide reduction, instead stating: ‘‘We believe that every life matters and by working together, we can achieve a future where there is no suicide.’’

The draft strategy came under fire in the months leading up to the 2017 election, when comedian-turned-advocate Mike King publicly quit a group advising the Ministry of Health on the document, after it was released for further public feedback.

King criticised the draft for not including a suicide reduction target, ‘‘pandering to minority groups’’, and ‘‘broad and vanilla’’ statements.

‘‘. . . at the end of the day we couldn’t even get you to agree to a target of a 20 per cent reduction in suicide over the next 10 years,’’ King said.

The 2018 Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry recommende­d the Government ‘‘urgently complete’’ the lapsed plan, and set a target of 20 per cent reduction in suicide rates by 2030 (the Government rejected this).

The plan proposes streamlini­ng existing suicide prevention programmes and reducing ‘‘unnecessar­y duplicatio­n across government and communitie­s’’.

It also seeks to create a national Suicide Prevention Office. It would lead and monitor implementa­tion of Every Life Matters, create a website with suicide prevention resources, and develop a national plan identifyin­g gaps in suicide prevention research.

A suicide prevention and postventio­n workforce plan would also be developed.

It would monitor and evaluate Every Life Matters and produce an annual report on the strategy’s implementa­tion.

Progress or completion on all activities in the plan is expected by the end of 2024.

Outcomes include supporting people who self-harm, making sure people bereaved by suicide have access to free counsellin­g, and investment in Ma¯ ori and Pacific suicide prevention.

The document has a significan­t focus on bereaved families who have lost children to suicide.

‘‘We believe that every life matters . . .’’ Draft suicide prevention plan

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