I know of four families who lost teenagers to suicide these past school holidays.
I hear there were 7 families impacted by suicide in the Queenstown area in the past two weeks.
Our suicide rates in this country should be of no surprise to anyone – we have the worst rate of teen suicides in the developed world. It’s a shameful and heartbreaking statistic.
But the reason I raise this is because one of this government’s promises, in a long list of lofty promises.. was zero suicides.
Zero. None. That was their goal.
Not only that, they were going to fix mental health.
I’m not sure whereabouts the mental health part got ignored in trying to legalise cannabis, but adding cannabis to the mix in a country awash with mental health issues doesn’t seem like the smartest idea to me.
And then there's child poverty. They were fixing that too.
And the rivers, they were going to be swimmable, the housing crisis fixed with a hundred thousand new homes, light rail was coming in to solve all our transport woes, a zero road toll, and petrol prices were being reviewed because they were too high.
And what have we got instead? We got a new petrol tax so we now pay more, light rail’s been canned, the houses.. well you know about the houses.
Why do I raise all this? Because it’s election year, and the only thing getting political coverage right now appears to be Covid.
I do wonder how much the media are complicit participants in the Labour party campaign when they seem to be content to stay on message with the government’s Covid routine. That we are still in a health crisis. That this is indeed a ‘Covid election’.
Here’s the rub, post the election, it conveniently won’t be about Covid anymore, because the news will all be bad. The economic haemmoraghing will have worsened, more people will be getting made redundant, the rubber will be hitting the road.
(Not a new road though, they don’t like those.)
Ihumatao will magically be settled with more money we don’t have, businesses will be asked to give employees extra sick leave, if the Greens get back they’ll be pushing for free houses for everyone too.
But where's the accountability on progress? Where’s the report card on what this government has actually achieved in its 3 years and what its likely to achieve in the next 3? We don’t see it, because the message they want to keep blinding us all with, is Covid.
And here’s the irony on that. They want polling stations to have social distancing in place and hand sanitiser, they want us to download contact tracing apps, we are reminded constantly that Level 2 lockdown is just around the corner. Yet I see out on the hustings in busy crowded marketplaces, the PM, not social distancing, and I dare say not contact tracing each person stopping her for selfies.
Why not? Why is she not leading by example?
We are potentially on the cusp of a huge political shift in this country. And if we're going to stay dazed by Covid.. we may find we just sleep walk into it.
Where to get help
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Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
Samaritans: 0800 726 666
If it is an emergency and you feel you or someone else is at risk, call 111