5 Dec 2012

Chief Coroner backs call for suicide prevention information

10:42 pm on 5 December 2012

Chief Coroner Neil McLean is backing a coroner's call for more public information on preventing suicide.

Christchurch coroner Sue Johnson has recommended that the Health Ministry run media advertising to show how to respond and help someone who says they feel suicidal.

Judge McLean says the idea of openly advertising such advice is an interesting one and he is keen to hear what the ministry thinks of it.

He says at meetings all over the country people have told him they are worried by the suicide rates and want to know what they can do, both as good citizens and in situations where they are dealing with someone who is talking about suicide.

The ministry says it will consider the Christchurch coroner's recommendations.

It says anyone aware of someone considering suicide, should seek help through the police, mental health services, or helplines such as Lifeline.

The ministry says the website for Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand (SPINZ) offers information and training for people on dealing with a friend or family member who may be suicidal.

But an organisation working to prevent suicide says it would be unwise to put the Health Ministry in charge of a suicide prevention campaign in the media.

Community Action on Suicide Prevention, Education and Research (Casper) says the ministry sees suicide as a mental health issue when often it is not.

Spokesperson Maria Bradshaw says young people thinking of suicide are usually deeply unhappy, rather than mentally ill, and need to be supported and comforted - not medicated and locked up.

Ms Bradshaw says calling in police and mental health teams as the ministry advises can increase the risk of suicide for a young person suffering emotional pain.