Suicide statistics a sad reminder of challenge we face

News that 685 people are believed to have taken their lives through suicide last year is a sad reminder of the scale of the long-term mental health challenge we face as a nation, Health Minister Dr David Clark says.

The Chief Coroner has today released provisional suicide data for the 2018/19 year.

David Clark says announcements about a Suicide Prevention Office and a new national Suicide Prevention Strategy will be made in the coming weeks.

“Every life matters, and every death from suicide is a tragedy. Behind each of those deaths is a story of loss and devastation.

“To all those whānau and communities I want you to know we’re working hard to improve our mental health services.

“Suicide is one of the key long-term challenges facing the country this Government is working hard to overcome. It will take more than one budget to turn around our high number of suicides, but we are committed to putting more help and resources in place to help fix this problem.

“Budget 2019 included a record $1.9 billion dollar investment in mental health and addiction – including $455 million to create new frontline services and $40 million for suicide prevention.

“This work includes a national fund to provide free counselling for those bereaved by suicide, an expanded family and whānau suicide prevention information service – and tailored Māori and Pacific suicide prevention initiatives.

“Budget 2019 also provided funding to improve the support given to the around 15,000 people who go to emergency departments each year experiencing a mental health crisis or at risk of suicide.

“There are no quick fixes here, but as a Government we are committed to taking mental health and addiction seriously.

“Suicide is an incredibly complicated issue, and turning around our terrible rate will take time. But I’m confident the raft of initiatives we’re rolling out to better support mental health and wellbeing will make a real difference,” David Clark said.