Funding for Suicide Mortality Review Committee

  • Jonathan Coleman
  • Peter Dunne

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Associate Minister Peter Dunne have announced that, following a successful trial, the Ministry of Health will extend its funding for the Suicide Mortality Review Committee (SuMRC).

“Our suicide rate is too high, particularly the rates for youth and specifically Maori and Pacific young people,” says Dr Coleman.

“Although wider interventions and support have been made available, there is always more we can do.

“The SuMRC committee will provide vital knowledge about factors and patterns of suicide that will help guide new suicide prevention activities and reinforce and strengthen existing activities.

“In line with international trends here in New Zealand we’ve seen an increase in demand for mental health and addiction services in recent years.

“To help meet this increase the Government’s funding for mental health and addiction services has lifted by $300 million. In addition to this, Budget 2017 committed an extra $224 million, including $124 million for new approaches.

“Cabinet is in the process of considering new mental health initiatives, and the details of these are expected to be released in the next few weeks.”

“Following a successful trial it’s common sense to fund SuMRC, as part of the Health Quality & Safety Commission,” says Mr Dunne.

“Already established mortality review committees have shown their value in their respective areas. For example, since its inception the Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee has noted a fall in the rate of stillbirths in New Zealand from 5.6 per 1000 in 2007 to 5.1 in 2015.

“Mortality review committees operating under the NZ Public Health and Disability Act 2000 can require identifiable data from other agencies under strict confidentiality provisions.

“It is this power that will enable us to bring together datasets, linking them in ways not previously possible to identify key patterns and possible intervention points and strategies, with an aim to reduce suicide.”

SuMRC was established under the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2013-16 and operated on a trial basis under the Health Quality & Safety Commission. It will now receive $750,000 annually, reprioritised from Ministry of Health baseline funding.