Help prevent suicide, it’ll take courage

/Help prevent suicide, it’ll take courage
Help prevent suicide, it’ll take courage 2017-09-21T19:56:11+00:00

Patrice Harrex with her son Brad Anderson, 25. Brad was released from hospital despite saying he wanted to take his own life. Two days later, he was dead.

Dear political parties and candidates,

As families who have lost loved ones to suicide, we know a bit about courage. We’ve had to ask ourselves difficult, uncomfortable questions.

We need you to have courage too. We need you to ask difficult questions about our mental health system. You’ll need the courage to put aside politics and do what is right for every Kiwi.

We write to ask you to support the coalition’s six election pledges to ensure every Kiwi gets the care they need, when they need it:

Set a suicide reduction target taking into account the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of 10% by 2020.

NZ has the highest youth suicide rates in the OECD. 579 people died by suicide in 2015/2016. Nothing will change without a clear, measurable target to give focus and accountability. A goal gives hope. If we don’t have a clear target how will we ever achieve our aspiration of zero suicides? The Ministry of Health’s Independent Suicide Prevention Advisory panel recommended one. So did the Director of Mental Health. Health Minister Jonathan Coleman

Hold an independent mental health inquiry in the first 100 days of the new Government, and commit to fund what it identifies as needed.

77% of Kiwis support an independent inquiry into mental health service. We need to know how an emergency department can release a teenager who says they want to kill themselves? Or why children have to wait three months for an eating disorder appointment, but the Ministry says this doesn’t happen? Or how the Government says staffing is sufficient when nine out of 10 people working in health feel understaffed.

Restore $2.3b of health funding to cover unmet annual health costs, commit to increased costs annually, and fund a national survey on unmet need.

The Senior Doctors’ association (ASMS) and Council of Trade Unions say the Government has underfunded health by $2.3b. Funding hasn’t kept up with our ageing and growing population, increased mental health needs, inflation, wages and new medicines. This mean’s we haven’t been able to maintain our current inadequate levels of service. In mental health this has resulted in delays which can, and have been, deadly. The mantra “do more with less” has become “do less with less”.

Significantly increase primary health funding to bring down GP and primary health costs, including therapies and other mental health needs.

One in six Kiwis can’t afford a GP. We have the worst access to equitable primary health, second only to the United States. The little primary mental health services that exist are inadequate. Only a limited amount of free therapy sessions are available and waiting lists are long. Most can’t afford to go private and go without.

Commit to evidence-based safe staffing to ensure patient safety and quality care.

Nine in 10 people working in health feel understaffed. People working in health do the best they can with what they’ve got, but they’re stretched and many feel burnt out. 70% feel their workload or work pressure is unreasonable. Unrealistic caseloads and fatigued health workers jeopardise patient safety. Understaffing reduces the ability to provide the level of care people need. Mental health staff often work 16 hour shifts to cover for vacancies.

Require landlords to make their rentals warm and dry, and subsidise low-income homeowners to achieve the same for their homes.

Having a healthy place to live is key to physical and mental well-being. Yet 40,000 children in New Zealand are admitted to hospital every year from preventable illnesses linked to poverty and unhealthy homes. Homes should much us feel safe and loved, not sick.

(We shouldn’t even have to ask for the first pledge.)

Don’t let other families go through what we have

As politicians, you can make a real difference to Kiwis when they are most vulnerable. Like any mental health issue, there are three steps to getting help. You need to acknowledge we have a mental health crisis, provide us support and do something about it. Don’t get stuck at the first stage, have the courage to take every step. Suicide is preventable and good policy is key.

Taking no action leaves the responsibility on the bereaved, service-users and their families, and a stretched workforce. We’ve already got enough to deal with.

There is hope. We believe working with you collaboratively is an important part of our healing process.

Yours sincerely,

  • Corinda Taylor, mother of Ross, 20
  • Maria Dillon, mother of Harry, 18
  • Patrice Harrex, mother of Brad, 25

On behalf of bereaved families in the coalition.

This open letter has been signed by:

Abbey Brand
Abbey Swift
Abbie Smeehuyzen
Abby Zonneveld
Abby Washington
Ada Paul
Adele Carter
Adrian Bird
Adrienne Buckingham
Adrienne Newby
aileen haxton
Aimee Port
Aimee Osborne
Aimee Ryan
aimee Wright
Aimee Tolhopf
Aimee Gibbs
Alana Wells
Alana Taylor
Alana Tamakehu
Alanna Pleasants
Alannah Burgess
Aleisha Kirkman
Alesha Ruddenklau
Alex Dent
Alex McMahon
Alex Martin
Alex Leighton
Alex Pyper
Alex Davidson
Alex Macuer
Alex Bolderston
Alex Filsell
Alexandra Swale
Alexis Cameron
Ali Borman
Alice Robinson
Alice Bartlett
Aliesha Ruddell
Alison Loughrey
alison martin
Alison Briggs
Alys White
Amanda Hale
Amanda Martin
Amber Haines
Amber Marshall
amelia hendry
Amy Stonestreet
Amy Mexted
Amy Taylor
Amy Hall-Jones
amy elston
Andrea Soanes
Andrea McLay
Andrea Casey
Andrew Harrison
Andy Hipkiss
Andy Town
Aneisha Noanoa
Angela Berger
angela Sinclair
Angela Daun
Angelena Begley
Angus Elliott
Anita Trappitt
Anita Brown
Anita Mary
Anna Sunnex
Anna St George
Anna O’Toole
Anna Miles
Anne marie Welton
Anneke Rombouts
Annelise Theis
Annemarie Lilley
Annie Davies
Antoinette Swanepoel
Anton Oconnell
Arda van Kuyk
Ardina Beattie
Arnna Drummond
Aroha Kereopa
Ashlee Young
Ashleigh Clough
Ashleigh Aldridge
Ashleigh Mail
Ashleigh Bowman
Ashley Low
Ashlyn Monk
athina valera
Augustus Mackenzie
Austen Haig
Axel Hohneck
Aynsley Peterson
Barbara Swanston
Barbara Namana
Barbara McArdle
Barbara Winchester
Barry Lennox
Barry and Sue mailman
Baxter Watson
Bayley Gutsell
Becky Oswald
Belinda Clements
bella harvey
Ben Grant
Ben Ballantyne
Ben Fleming
Ben Willemsen
Ben Mitchell
Ben Steele
Ben Hall
Ben Tamati
Benjamin ROSS
Bernard Macmillan
Bethany Mackintosh
Betty` Dowswell
Bev Stockley
Bianca Healey
Bianca Keane
bianca billington
Blair Mitchell-Kuru
Bradley Simmons
Brandon Smith
Breanna Lattimore
Brian Crawford
Brianna Fairon
Briar Saunders
Briar Carrodus
Bridget Corkery
Bridget O’Toole
Bridget Mcilhone-Symons
Bridgette Pink
Bridgette Pepper
Brigitta Rennie
Brittany Charlett
Brittany Mcmahon
Brittany McGregor
Brittany Sanderson
Brittany Sutherland
Brittany Pringle
Brittany Calder
Brodie Abel
Bronwyn Bell
Brooke Jay
Brylee Lyons
Brylie Hillegers
C McCrea
Caitlin Marshall
Caleb Fenwick-Daley
Callum Foster
Cameron Anglesey
Cameron Deynzer
Candice Smith
Candice Bradshaw
Cara Collett
Carly Mackay
Carmel Telfar
Carmen McLeary
Carol Halloran
Carol Greenhalgh
Caroline Evans
Carolyn Sutherland
Carolyn Walters
Carolyn McMillan
Carolyn Marshall
Carolyn Edwards
Carolyn Procter
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Carolyn barker Barker
Casey Pike
Casey Martin
Cassandra Johnston
Cassie Welton
Catherine August
Cathryn Mazer
Cathy Sutton
Cathy Trevathan
Cecile Elsing
Cecily Reed
Chanel Fletcher
Chanelle Ferguson
Chantalle Smith
Charlene George
Charlene Mundy
Charlotte Bell
Charlotte Ritchie
Charlotte Hand
Charmaine Nixon
charmaine mcleod
Charmaine Burke
Chelsea Manning
Chelsea Bridges
Chelsea McKellar
chelsea townley
Chelsea Benton
Cherie Dixon
Cherie McKinnon
Chloe Baillie
Cholena Perry
Chris Whitley
Chris Beck
Chris Ryan
Chris Garland
Chris Lethaby
Christie Morrison
Christina Epati
christina bruce
christine sadler
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Christine Taylor
Christine Cherry
Christopher Wilson
Christy Hawker
Claire Cutforth
Claire du Toit
Claire Paterson
Claire SouthernVasey
Clare Galloway
Clare Latimer
Clare Jenkins
colleen Symon
Colleen Kito
Colleen Palmer
Connor Brocket
Conor Kemp
Corey Miller
corinne nasey
Courtney Myron
Courtney Petelo
Courtney Whiting
Courtney Kersten
craig strong
Craig Galloway
Craig Mclean
Crystal Meredith
Curtis Beaumont
Dale SmarT
Dana Gray
Daniel Ingham
Danielle De Giorgis
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Danieo Stewart
Danika Grant
Darcy and Leonie Oates
Darren Williams
David Ellison
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David Long
David Duke
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first_name last_name
Folola Hale
frances scott
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jo mackay
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Yvette Moore
Yvonne Lawson
Yvonne Winch
Zach Martin
Zara Mcgregor
Zara Welton
Zelda McConachy
Zoe Bourke
Zoe Swift
Zoe Mackness
Zoe Cotter
Zoe Hancox
Zoe Fay

The following organisations support this open letter:

  • ActionStation
  • Ambulance Professionals First / First Union
  • Council of Trade Unions
  • E tū
  • Life Matters Suicide Prevention trust
  • Maternal Care Action Network
  • New Zealand Nurses Organisation
  • Parents of Children With Additional Needs (POCAN)
  • Peoples’ Mental Heatlh Review
  • Public Service Association
  • Tertiary Education Union (TEU)
  • Unite
  • United Community Action Network Aotearoa NZ


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 111.

If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:

LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234

There are lots of places to get support. For others, click here.

Patrice Harrex and son Brad, 25

Ross Taylor, 20, son of Corinda

Maria Dillon and son Harry, 18