Changing Minds hosted a public Suicide Prevention Strategy workshop to talk about the issue and get feedback on the strategy proposed by the Ministry of Health.
There were many questions about the strategy and suicide in general which were answered to the best of their ability by a panel of guests, and an opportunity for further discussion was undertaken in small groups at the end of the day.
Some examples of the questions and themes explored are below:Several questions were centred around what was significantly different about this strategy document in comparison to earlier strategies, there seemed to be no link to previous learnings, nor comments on what we had learned so far from previous actions or programmes (good and bad) in this space.
Some examples of the questions and themes explored:
• There was a “nod” to the WHO guidelines in the document’s preamble but then the guidelines themselves (funding to determine outcome measures, social determinants, restriction to means, early intervention etc) were notably absent.
• The strategy is lacking clear leadership and lines of accountability.
• The strategy is too general, and not ambitious or inspiring.
• The feedback from every one of our break out workshops was that Police should stop being the ‘access point’ for people in distress.
• A lot of suicidal and self-harming thoughts and actions are never reported to health providers (self-stigma, fear of discrimination/impact).
• Focusing on tech interventions (alone/ in isolation) loses the vital aspect of face to face connections.
• There were many comments about how the language used in the strategy needs to change. People agreed that it could use more verbs. More action words. Each action point should be completed with the word “by” to give specific actions and examples. It was also pointed out that the word “timely” access was only used once in the document (section 6, Page 18) and yet is an integral term in preventing death.
• People commented that some specific things were missing from the strategy, e.g. Rangitahi, Older Persons, LBGT, Whanau, strategies for dealing with impulsivity and isolation etc.