New Zealand Law Society - Government announces Suicide Prevention Office

Government announces Suicide Prevention Office

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In a release from the Minister of Health and the Prime Minister, the Government has announced the establishment of a Suicide Prevention Office (SPO).

The Office’s intended purpose is to coordinate existing action aimed at reducing New Zealand’s historically high rate of suicide.

A Suicide Prevention Strategy (2019-2029) and Action Plan (2019-2024) titled Every Life Matters was published by the Ministry of Health on September 10.

Three main focus areas for the Action Plan are; promoting wellbeing, responding to suicidal stress and behaviour, and supporting individuals, whānau and communities after a suicide.

The SPO will be housed and supported initially in the Ministry of Health and is intended to become a stand-alone Office in the future.

Two advisory groups will also be established to work with the SPO. A lived experience advisory group and a Māori advisory group. A Director of Suicide Prevention will also to be announced in the near future.

Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall reported the year to 30 June 2019 saw 685 deaths by suicide in New Zealand.

This is reportedly the highest number since recording began, an increase of 17 to the year prior.

Of significant concern to the Office of the Chief Coroner is the increase on the previous year of ages 15-19 (up from 53 to 73), 20-24 (up from 76 to 91), and the increase in the Māori suicide rate (142 to 169) and the Pacific Island rate (23 to 34).

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