August 23, 2020
Community support needed to tackle suicide
A suicide prevention expert says New Zealand is hung up on a mental health approach to the problem.
New Zealand Māori Council executive director Matthew Tukaki, a previous chair of Suicide Prevention Australia, says while the latest statistics show a small drop in the number of people who took their own lives last year â€“ from 685 to 654 – Māori aged from 15 to 24 still have the highest suicide rate of any population in the western world.
The figures also show disturbing trends in suicide rates among middle-aged Pakeha men, elderly women, and Asian people.
He says while investment has been boosted for mental health services, he would like to see more community-led programmes, especially for Māori.
"We haven’t quite got to that yet. We still seem to be investing in the same pipeline of mental health services, and to frank, they have been receiving millions of dollars over many years and if what they were doing was right we still wouldn't have a suicide rate that is over 600," Mr Tukaki says.
He says in many cases suicide prevention is about helping people with the day to day struggle they find themselves in when it comes to work, relationships, the challenges of running a business and other such commonplace situations where people may find it hard to cope or they don’t know where to turn to for help.
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