Alcohol action is suicide prevention - MPs must act

Evidence published today showing that acute alcohol use is a factor in more than a quarter of suicides in New Zealand is a shocking wakeup call and politicians must respond, the Green Party says.

The study – which was published today in the New Zealand Medical Journal - is believed to be the first time the link between suicide deaths and acute alcohol use has been quantified across the population in this country.

“The harm caused by alcohol is not inevitable. It is the choice of politicians, today and every day. This ground breaking and concerning research must be a wakeup call that demands action,” says Green Party drug reform spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick.

“Alcohol is the most harmful drug in our communities. It impacts our bodies and brains in ways that we’re for some reason not yet really that comfortable talking about. 

“While of course we must be careful not to confuse correlation and causation, a drug that is so deeply intertwined in such a substantial proportion of suicides requires a serious, mature and evidence-based response from lawmakers.

“That response must grapple with the reality that alcohol is a drug and requires sensible regulation to reduce harm. 

“Sensible regulation means reducing normalisation and glamorisation. While anti-evidence law has pushed other drugs underground to produce incredibly harmful outcomes that come with a black market, alcohol has been allowed to legally saturate our communities without adequate public policy intervention.

“The Greens will not stop fighting for real mental health support for all, which includes evidence based drug law. 

“The Government’s own He Ara Oranga (Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry) made these links clear last term, while those drug-related recommendations have largely sat collecting dust as political willpower is squandered.

“By the end of this year, Parliament will have the opportunity to begin addressing this problem with the vote on my Alcohol Harm Minimisation Bill. 

“The Bill will rebalance the law and ensure communities have real control and the final say over alcohol sales in their neighbourhoods. It will also begin to sever the unnecessary and frankly ludicrous tie between alcohol and sports, like we did with tobacco in the 1990s. With support from Bill coming from Local Authorities across Aotearoa and now this dire new evidence, the moment for action is now,” says Chlöe Swarbrick.

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