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Saturday, 16 February 2019 03:13 pm

Suicide brings to tears the most staunch-looking

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was not the only one brought to tears by the sight of 606 pairs of shoes lined up on Parliament lawn on World Suicide Prevention Day.

Tears also belonged to Mahu Rawhiri (above), one of the founders of Riders Against Teen Suicide .

“We’ve been losing too much of our tamariki and we need to put a stop that,” Rawhiri says.

“I mean when we look all staunch, and I tell you what, we look staunch, but this kind of event hit’s us in the heart.

“I had a wee bit of a cry over there so you know. We’re just ordinary guys. It’s just New Zealanders are really bad at stereotyping guys.”

During the three-hour rally organised by the Public Service Association, the mental health workers’ union, and, about 300 people came to view the shoes and show their support for those bereaved by suicide.

The nationwide rally not only collected a pair of shoes for every person who died by suicide, but explained the pledges the bereaved want all political parties to agree to in the up and coming election. They are:

  • Hold a mental health inquiry
  • Restore $2.3 billion in health funding
  • Set a suicide reduction target
  • Increase primary healthy and GP funding to help provide early intervention
  • Commit to safe staffing
  • Make every home healthy

The latest UNICEF report found New Zealand has the highest rate of youth suicide in the developed world.

It also highlighted every year more New Zealanders are killing themselves than the year before.

PSA co-ordinator Vicki Taylor travelled with the shoes from Bluff to Wellington, and is aware that the pain that may drive someone to take their own life, doesn’t disappear when they’re gone.

“As we’ve gone up and down the country we’ve let people who felt like they could, share their stories.  So many people had never spoken about their loss before,” Taylor says.

“It’s not just 606 shoes. It was 606 people who all had a community around them and everyone was affected,” Taylor says.

“Everyone has a story, everyone has been touched.”

She says the bereaved do not know where to go for help.

ACC no longer funds treatment for those traumatised by suicide.

Organisers had sent a letter to every political party inviting them to attend the Wellington event, and discuss the issues.

All parties replied except National and ACT.

Labour, The Greens, NZ First and The Maori Party were all present at the event on Sunday with Ardern stating that Labour would implement a zero suicide target.

“Anything else suggests we have a tolerance for loss to suicide in New Zealand.”

What are the party policies on Mental Health funding?

Sarah McMullan summarises policy information found either on party websites or in media reports:

National: Will better utilise data and information to help decision making around funding as it continues with its plan of social investment approach for Mental Health funding.

The 2017 budget included $224million for mental health over four years – $100millon to come from DHB budgets.

17 initiatives have been singled out for increased funding with a focus on prevention and early intervention, especially for young people. Support for people with mild to moderate conditions will be extended as will E-therapy and distance options.

Extra Funding per year: $56million per year

Labour: Would increase frontline resourcing for health workers, have nurses placed in all secondary schools and undertake a mental health system review within the first 100 days of being in office.

Canterbury schools affected by the earthquakes would each receive a mental health worker; and there would be funding targeting suicide prevention in both mainstream and rainbow community support organisations.

There would be a two year pilot programme of 8 mental health hubs across the country; as well as free crisis help available.

Labour would add another $193million over three years to the budget for mental health spending, on top of what National has already announced in this year’s budget.

Extra Funding per year: $120million per year

The Maori Party: Would increase kaupapa Maori services in mental health, including alcohol and drug services; and mental health residential centres will be increased.

Would appoint mental health youth workers in all high schools; and would lower the threshold for access to support.

The Oranga Tamariki youth suicide prevention network would be expanded.
The Maori Party claims that $8million targeting youth suicide in the 2017 budget announced by National was due to their lobbying.

Extra Funding per year: Not specified; would increase funding


The Opportunities Party: Would triple Labour’s spending on mental health to $450million a year.

Increased funding would be allocated to drug and alcohol treatment programmes; as well as youth suicide prevention programmes.

Some of the funding would come from the legalisation and taxation of cannabis, and an increase on tax on alcohol.

Expenditure would target prevention: better homes, better nutrition, less stress.

TOP believes that the Universal Basic Income is key to achieving this.

Extra Funding per year: $450million per year

The Green Party: Would hold a mental health inquiry as well as reinstate the Mental Health Commission.

It would also introduce a suicide prevention target.

It wants training in mental health to be “grounded in holistic, humanistic perspectives”.

It would require services and funding initiatives to meet client assessed measurement guidelines of success.

Extra Funding per year: Supports labour spending – $120million per year

NZ First: Would instigate a mental health inquiry urgently.

It would increase funding and increase beds in residential services for those with severe illness, disability and addiction problems.

The diversification of mental health treatment options is part of their plan to work towards a community view instead of a medical view of services; and improve the coordination and integration of all health services.

Extra Funding per year: Not specified; adequate funding required for mental health

ACT: Would set aside $30million dollars for DHB’s to undertake a 24month trial to eliminate all mental health waiting lists.

It believes that extra funding should be able to fund enough NGO’s to treat the patient’s currently backed up in the system, effectively bypassing the public waitlist.

They believe more public awareness around mental health services is needed to lower the suicide rate, and would place mental health professionals in every secondary school.

Extra Funding per year: Not specified; would not decrease funding

Where to get help:

If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider.

However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

Or if you need to talk to someone else:

  • LIFELINE:0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
    • SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
    • YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
    • NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
    • KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
    • WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
    • DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757


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is Christchurch born, has lived in Auckland and is loving Wellington. She believes fairness, honesty, David Bowie, and accountability are the foundations of society. Something to tell her? Hit that email button or call her (+64) 27 254 7930.
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