New Zealand vows to take mental health seriously

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-10 11:57:07|Editor: ZD
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WELLINGTON, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Minister of Health of New Zealand David Clark said Thursday that this year's World Mental Health Day theme is a reminder of why the government's work on mental health is so important and New Zealand is committed to taking mental health seriously, to reduce its record high rate of suicide.

"This year the World Federation for Mental Health has made suicide prevention the main theme of this important day," David Clark said. "This Government is committed to taking mental health seriously. We made a record 1.9 billion New Zealand dollars (1.2 billion U.S. dollars) investment into mental health and addiction in Budget 2019 and have a range of actions underway to reduce New Zealand's high rate of suicide."

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister David Clark jointly released on Sept. 10 Every Life Matters -- The Suicide Prevention Strategy 2019-2029 and Action Plan 2019-2024.

The plan has three main focus areas including promoting wellbeing, responding to suicidal distress and behavior and supporting individuals and communities after a suicide. According to the plan, a suicide prevention office will be established to coordinate actions.

"We've also allocated 40 million New Zealand dollars (25.3 million U.S. dollars) in funding through Budget 2019 to suicide prevention including counselling for those bereaved by suicide and tailored Maori and Pacific suicide prevention initiatives," Clark said. "There are no quick fixes, but we need to start with prevention. That means providing better access and choice of services for people where and when they need it."

The number of suicides in New Zealand has reached record high, with 685 people believed to have taken their lives through suicide in the year to June 30.

There were 17 more deaths than in the previous year, an increase of 2.5 percent.

Despite progress, one person still dies every 40 seconds from suicide globally, the World Health Organization said on Sept. 9 in a statement, calling on all countries to strengthen their suicide prevention and education strategies.