The record-high provisional annual suicide statistics released today by the Chief Coroner shows why the Government should urgently initiate a nationwide mental health inquiry, the Green Party said today.
579 people died by suicide in the 2015/16 year, which is the highest number of suicide deaths since provisional statistics were first recorded by the Coroner’s Office in 2007/08.
“The number of Kiwis who are tragically taking their own lives reflects the failings in our mental health system,” Green Party health spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.
“We owe it to all of those people and their loved ones to look at why the system isn’t reaching them and a mental health inquiry is the best way to do that.
“Mental health services are undoubtedly under-resourced, and the Government’s slow erosion of the overall health budget has stretched mental health services past breaking point.
“New Zealand is spending almost ten times as much on new programmes preventing road toll deaths than suicide prevention, yet more people are committing suicide than dying on the roads.
“A lack of funding for preventative care, and a lack of funding for crisis management, means that people are not getting the help that they need.
“The figures for Māori women committing suicide have dramatically increased, which shows that there need to be more initiatives specifically targeted at Māori communities.
“We need a decent, functioning mental health system that allows our young people to be seen quickly, ensures people get the help that they need, and is responsive to the mental health problems that people have.
“There is so much more that the Government can be doing – addressing the mental health needs of New Zealanders should be a priority issue for any Government,” Ms Genter said.
Where to get help:
The Mental Health Foundation's free Resource and Information Service (09 623 4812) will refer callers to some of the helplines below:
Lifeline - 0800 543 354
Depression Helpline (8 am to 12 midnight) - 0800 111 757
Healthline - 0800 611 116
Samaritans - 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline (aimed at those in distress, or those who are concerned about the wellbeing of someone else) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email email@example.com