The Ministry of Health released their latest New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan (2013-2016) in May, and the document is available for download from the Ministry of Health here.
The plan itself is a very broad-strokes document, with clear purpose and goals but a noticeable lack of detail or concrete suggestions about how to achieve these goals. The advantage is an easily readable fifteen-page action plan, rather than a weighty and complicated research document. However, there are less “actions” than one might expect in an action plan and more policy level recommendations.
For example, one of the actions is “Support community-based organisations to create opportunities for young people to be involved in community development projects” (1.2). This is a great recommendation (and it is called an “action”) but there are no further actions attached to it, which makes it relatively vague.
Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne states in the Foreword that he is hoping this plan will enable families, whanāu and communities to better cope with and prevent suicide. Dunne:
“A key feature of the new plan is a stronger focus on supporting families and communities, and helping them to prevent suicide. Those who are closest to people who are struggling are often in the best position to know when something is wrong and to seek help.”
He calls upon the government to “to address this matter with determination and commitment,” and also upon communities and family members, because “in the end that is what will make a difference – the support and commitment of all New Zealanders.”
It will remain to be seen how the recommendations of this document are enacted. We hope it will translate into some useful, achievable, and valuable actions on the ground, rather than existing solely on a higher strategic level.