New suicide prevention strategy in the pipeline
It's World Suicide Prevention Day, and the Government has marked it with an announcement that a new strategy and action plan are being developed.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says around 500 Kiwis take their own lives every year, and mental health is a key focus for the Government.
Dr Coleman says funding for mental health services has been increased and district health boards have put in place suicide prevention plans.
They include MidCentral's focus on cyber bullying, Northland's social media campaign to raise awareness, and Canterbury's new online suicide prevention service.
"This work is part of the suicide prevention action plan 2013-2016 which comes to an end this year," Dr Coleman said.
"Work is under way to develop a new strategy and action plan, following a series of national workshops."
Those who work with the complex issue of suicide in New Zealand say connections can be key to prevention.
"Loneliness is a serious public health issue with a simple solution," says Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson.
"You don't need to be a mental health professional to ask someone how they're doing. A simple kia ora or g'day can be the start of a conversation that can save a life," he says.
The international theme for World Suicide Prevention Day this year is connect, communicate and care.
Suicide is preventable and support from people who care can help people to find a way through, Mr Robinson says.
If you're worried about someone, ask them directly, he says.
"Listen calmly to their answer without judgement and give them as much time as they need to talk through what they are experiencing," he said.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, call Lifeline on 0800 543 354 or the Suicide Prevention Helpline on 0508 828 865.