Rural mental health advocate welcomes Suicide Prevention Office

Plans to establish a Suicide Prevention Office have been welcomed by a rural mental health advocate.

The initiative is part of the Government's Suicide Prevention Strategy which aims to help bring down New Zealand's high suicide rate.

The office would be housed and supported by the Ministry of Health initially, before becoming standalone.

The Government said the office would provide "central leadership and better coordination" of suicide prevention work.

A Director of Suicide Prevention would also be appointed.

Gerard Vaughan said the Government's suicide prevention initiatives were positive for the rural sector.
Gerard Vaughan said the Government's suicide prevention initiatives were positive for the rural sector. Photo credit: Supplied

Project lead for Farmstrong, a wellbeing programme for farmers, Gerard Vaughan said the strategy followed what had been happening in the rural sector.

"We've seen the benefits of the rural sector taking a leadership role for a few years in this space and there's some concrete examples of initiatives like Farmstrong and Good Yarn Workshops and the work that the Rural Support Trusts do" he said.

He said the establishment of a Suicide Prevention Office would compliment work already being done.

"Having some leadership through a suicide prevention office that is co-ordinating and being a point of contact, we see that as very positive," said Vaughan.

He said it was pleasing to see something being done at central Government level.

"We have just got to get on with it, it is such a big problem we are facing."

Meanwhile, Vaughan believed the initiatives to increase awareness of mental health among farmers were seeing positive changes.

"Farmers are increasingly working on how to improve their wellbeing and that's a really positive thing."

In the year to June 30, 685 people took their own lives in New Zealand - 17 more than the previous year.

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