ANZASW: World Suicide Prevention Day 2020

ANZASW is today pleased to acknowledge World Suicide Prevention Day (10th of September 2020). Today is an important day to recognise and reflect on the important role we all play in preventing suicide in Aotearoa. It is also a day to remember those we have lost to suicide and ANZASW offers our thoughts and condolences to those who have lost loved ones. The theme for World Suicide Prevention Day this year is “one world connected”, a timely reminder of the collective effort required in preventing suicides.

Figures released earlier this year, showed New Zealand’s suicide rate had dropped from 13.93 deaths per 100,000 people to 13.01. While this drop is encouraging it is important to remember that over 650 families have suffered a tragic loss.

The latest report ‘Zero Suicide Aotearoa’ ( link: https://www.platform.org.nz/assets/Publications/FINAL-Zero-Suicides-report..pdf)  was today released by the Mental Health and Addiction Wellbeing group, a cross-party mental health committee formed last year. The committee was launched to address New Zealand’s unacceptably high rates of suicide. The committee is made up of one MP from each party currently in parliament.

The report recognises the complex and multi-dimensional nature of suicide and the need for a tailored response that reflects this. The report suggests that while some aspects of a suicide response plan can be generalised across populations that ultimately suicide prevention plans need to critically consider factors such as social-economic and racial contexts. Dedicated strategies are needed to account for age, sex and cultural differences in the population. Especially those that are known to be have higher risks of suicide. The report found that a multi-sectional holistic approach to suicide is far more effective than a one size fits all strategy.

High risk groups include Māori, Pasifika, Asian, young people aged 15-19, men aged 20-65, people experiencing extreme mental distress or addiction problems, farmers and the LGBTI+/Rainbow community.

The report highlights that need for Te Tiriti o Waitangi to underpin all approaches for rangatahi Māori. The report suggests four recommendations for all of government:

  1. Embed and enact Te Tiriti into all policy and practice to support mana motuhake
  2. Urgently address the impact of socioeconomic determinants of health on whānau, including poverty, alcohol, racism, housing and unemployment
  3. Invest in what works for Māori, iwi, hapū and whānau – invest in, fund and build communities to lead initiatives that support communities in suicide prevention and postvention
  4. Work collectively, national and locally to leverage government investment in what works for Māori.

The report will provide MPs with resources to enable sustainable and long term plans for mental health services in Aotearoa.

The report has called for suicide prevention to become an integral part of the Covid-19 economic and social recovery plan. While the full extent of Covid-19 on mental health is yet to be established, it is important that there are mechanisms and support services in place if and when people require them.

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