Suicide Prevention Strategies must address social causes

ANZASW welcomes the release of Every Life Matters, the government’s newly-announced strategy and action plan for suicide prevention, which contains many much-needed initiatives.

However, the Association also recognises its omissions; in particular, the wider social and economic factors that can precipitate suicidal behaviour.

“Our suicide crisis in not just about mental health,” ANZASW Chief Executive Lucy Sandford-Reed said.

“While of course we commend the government for boosting support to services, creating new initiatives and positions, we must as a country also address the daily social and economic challenges people face, which also contribute to the very high rate of suicide in Aotearoa” she said.

“This view has been articulated very well by Māori Council chief executive Matthew Tukaki. Like him, social workers recognise the context in which suicidal ideation or actions occur often cannot be separated from the issues that create challenges, such as poverty, abuse, addiction, marginalisation and the stress of experiencing adversity over the long term,” she added.

“We would like to see a more holistic approach to preventing suicide from the government,” she continued.

The Association also regrets that the report stopped short of committing to provide a guaranteed increase in funding for mental health social work services across the community sector over the long term.

“This applies particularly to NGOs working in some of the communities worst affected by high rates of suicide. Of course it is good that the government is planning to partner with some organisations in delivering programmes in this plan, but in the real world this needs to be accompanied by providing funding to keep many of the existing services running as well,” she said.

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