An Approach For Action - The Consultation Phase of a Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy

  • Deborah Morris
Youth Affairs

The Ministers of Youth Affairs, Health and Maori Affairs today called for government agencies, communities, parents, whanau/family, teachers and young people to work together to help prevent youth suicides.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs, in co-operation with the Ministry of Health and Te Puni Kokiri, today released 'An approach for action', phase two in the development of a national strategy to help prevent youth suicide.

"The release of the discussion document will allow organisations and people working with young people to respond and provide a clearer picture as to what projects are already happening. The government will then determine its priorities for action," said Deborah Morris.

The document outlines five main goals.

Promoting well-being
To prevent young people becoming at risk of suicide by strengthening families/whanau, young people and communities.

Early identification and help
To better identify and help young people at risk of suicide and reduce opportunities which present suicide as an option.

Critical support and treatment
To improve support and treatment for young people who have attempted suicide or who are suicidal.

Support after suicide
To give effective support to those who are bereaved or affected by a suicide, and to reduce the potential for further suicides.

Information and research
To improve information about the rates and causes of suicidal behaviour in young people so as to inform effective prevention efforts.
Tau Henare said, "As part of the overall strategy there is a specific Maori component, 'Kia Piki Te Ora O Te Taitamariki'. This complements the wider strategy and recognises the importance of cultural and community development."

The Maori component aims to:

Strengthen Maori communities
To strengthen Maori communities so that they contribute towards fulfilling the potential of taitamariki.

Taitamariki development
To strengthen taitamariki through taitamariki Maori development.

Cultural development
To increase the role of cultural (tikanga) development as a protective factor for taitamariki Maori.

Support of mainstream
To encourage and assist mainstream services to respond appropriately and effectively to the needs of taitamariki Maori.

Information and research
To improve our understanding of the causes and the true level of suicide amongst taitamariki Maori.
"There are some great initiatives happening in Maori communities. This document will focus on initiatives that make a difference for young Maori," said Tau Henare.

Bill English said, "As well as on-going projects, this year's Budget provided an additional $40 million, over three years, for mental health funding, and $8.8 million targeting high risk young people.

"Not only do we need to provide support to young people who are showing signs of depression or who are going through some sort of crisis, we need to assist all young people to understand that help is available for them."

Deborah Morris said, "Every suicide is a tragedy for family and friends. To help prevent suicide we must all work co-operatively and ensure that support is available for young people when they need it.

"The Government, in partnership with community organisations, is committed to doing what it can to reduce the youth suicide rate. It takes a co-ordinated approach from those in direct and daily contact with young people to reduce the rate of suicides.

"Suicidal behaviour is complex and there is no single solution. We need to ensure that a wide mix of services and support are available to young people. Already many programmes, both government and non-government, are in place, however we need to ensure that these are appropriate and well co-ordinated. This strategy will support effective projects already underway, will identify areas that need more attention, and focus on examples of best practice.

"It is important to recognise that more than 90% of young people have not attempted to commit suicide. This issue needs to be treated with care, caution and thoughtfulness."

Written comments on the consultation document should be received at the Ministry of Youth Affairs by 19 September 1997.