The Ministry of Health has proposed a new framework for suicide prevention and is seeking feedback. Rural Women New Zealand’s (RWNZ) submission supports the general framework.
Although expresses concern regarding the lack of concrete targets and detailed methods for how any of the initiatives will be implemented. We are especially concerned about the lack of a strategic plan to lead and fund these activities.
The proposed framework aims to address the devastating impact that suicide has on New Zealand’s communities and the unfortunate reality that over 500 people in New Zealand die by suicide every year. RWNZ supports the framework’s focus on supporting positive wellbeing for all ages, increasing awareness of suicidal behaviour and mental health, strengthening systems already in place to support communities, and improving collaboration among those working to prevent suicidal behaviour.
In our submission, we have addressed the fact that the suicide rate is higher in rural areas than in urban areas, as well as the various factors that place rural communities at an increased risk of mental illness. These factors include vulnerability to economic fluctuations and social isolation, which are compounded by the lack of access to services and support, substandard or no access to reliable and affordable internet and mobile coverage, and the history of inequalities that rural communities face often being overlooked.
RWNZ has suggested that in order to improve mental wellbeing in rural areas, rural health research must become a priority to understand and address the needs of rural communities. We have also urged the Ministry of Health to refrain from relying on technological health services, recognising that not all rural communities have access to reliable and affordable internet and mobile coverage.
Rural Women New Zealand strongly supports the framework’s proposal to involve, train and educate community members on suicide prevention. Rural Women New Zealand has expressed that it is essential for rural communities to be provided with the right tools to improve mental wellbeing within the community and reduce social stigma associated with mental illness.
As further information becomes available, this will be distributed to the members.
Click here to download the Submission: June 2017 Suicide Prevention Strategy Submission