Suicide survivor joins calls to boost mental health services

Warning: This article contains descriptions of attempted suicide which may disturb some people.

Four years ago Robert Read came close to ending his life, but now he's running a Facebook page that aims to help others in dire straits.

He's one of many calling on the Government to fix the mental health system, and says if it weren't for his friends and family helping him things might have ended differently.

"I went outside to have a smoke, ended up sitting out on my deck for about five hours, holding a knife to my throat, just internally screaming," Mr Read says.

A friend came to check on him and took him to the Christchurch emergency department. They waited three hours before he was given antidepressants and then sent home.

"I blatantly said to them that the moment I leave there tonight, my plan was to go and finish what I started. I shouldn't have been let to go home that night."

Luckily, his friends and family were there to support him - now he's running a Facebook page that aims to help others who are struggling to find help.

"I know what it's like to be in that place and feel alone and feel like I've got nowhere to turn especially when you get pushed aside by the systems that are in place because they don't have enough to try and help you."

Corinda Taylor from the Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust took her message all the way to Parliament today, begging politicians to hold an urgent independent inquiry into mental health.

"We have to beg for services," Ms Taylor says. "You have to be severely unwell in order to get help."

Ms Taylor says mental health services in New Zealand are broken.

More than 40,000 new mental health patients were seen by DHBs in 2016, and of those almost a quarter (9362) waited over three weeks for even a first appointment.

Almost 3000 or seven percent waited longer than eight weeks.

Labour leader Andrew Little has made a big promise to look into the problems.

"In our first hundred days we will start an independent inquiry into the state of mental health services," he says.

But the Government says there's no need for an inquiry and the Finance Minister has been coy about whether there'll be more funding for mental health in the Budget.

Even if mental health gets more funding, many groups say money alone is not going to help.

They want a strategy to ensure the right funding is going to the right places so people get the treatment they need.

Where to get help:

  • Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
  • Healthline - 0800 611 116
  • Samaritans - 0800 726 666
  • Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757

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