Govt plan on suicide prevention discussed

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Suicide prevention advocates gathered last week to discuss the Government’s draft suicide-prevention plan.

Meeting at the Edgar Centre on Monday, May 29, the group contributed their own feedback to the plan.

Ministry of Health representatives are travelling the country gathering feedback from suicide-prevention advocates, agencies, survivors and other members of the public to amend the draft strategy.

Comments about the plan included that it was a bit vague in some of the aims and that targets were needed for it to make a real difference.

Those views were similar to ones stated by mental health advocate Mike King, who recently quit the plan’s advisory panel over concerns that having no target meant the strategy would have little effect.

There was also a push for more data to be gathered on both suicide victims and those in the mental health system.

Life Matters spokeswoman Corinda Taylor said she felt a “bit disappointed” with the meeting, especially as she felt those attending did not have enough time to have a good group-wide discussion.

She felt that would have made the meeting better than discussions in table groups.

She also said the the meeting of more than three hours had provided a “snapshot” of the plan, rather than going over the document page by page.

Ministry mental health director Dr John Crawshaw said data gathered by the coroner’s office showed 40% of suicide victims had been in contact with the mental health system in the 12 months before their death.

He told the Otago Daily Times after the meeting that a new sector feedback tool showed 80% people who received mental health services were satisfied with their treatment.

Public concern over the country’s mental health services resources has been a continual topic in the media and public discussions, including suicide prevention advocacy group Life Matters presenting a petition calling for an inquiry into the country’s mental health system.

The 2017 Budget included a boost of $224million over four years for mental health support.