Father of suicide victim not happy with inquiry recommendations

Newstalk ZB ,
Publish Date
Wed, 5 Dec 2018, 11:38AM
Dave Macpherson says that there the recommendations don't go far enough. (Photo / Getty)

Father of suicide victim not happy with inquiry recommendations

Newstalk ZB ,
Publish Date
Wed, 5 Dec 2018, 11:38AM

The father of a suicide victim says the recommendations from the Government's mental health inquiry are "underwhelming" and "short on concrete action".

The 200-page report which was released yesterday, makes 40 recommendations including the urgent completion and implementation of a national suicide prevention strategy. 

Dave Macpherson's son, Nicky Stevens, took his own life while in the care of Waikato DHB's mental health facility in 2015. 

Macpherson told Mike Hosking he is disappointed by the report. 

"I was more optimistic before I saw the report than after. There is a lot of same old, same old. There's a lot of good words and the discussion is good but it's a little short on a lot of concrete actions."

"They are not talking about changing who runs mental health, it's the same people in the DHBs and the Ministry of Health that have been, for instance, not even wanting the inquiry up until there was a new government a year ago, so yeah, it isn't thrilling me." 

However, he said there are some good bits too.

"The establishment of a Mental Health Commission rather than rolling it in into the general health and disability sector an overdue move. It should never have been taken away and we have seen in the past that has driven some better action from governments."

"Once that kicks in, I think there will be some good things come out of it and I think they will monitor the effects."

One of the recommendations includes a 20 per cent reduction target in suicide rates by 2030.

Macpherson says while any reduction is good, the Prime Minister promised a zero suicide target which she hasn't delivered.

"Any reduction is fantastic because we have been going North not South for quite a few years there, but over 12 years only reducing it by 10 or 11 a year, that's not much."

"The Prime Minister, last year, said there would a commitment to a zero suicide target or vision at least, and look everyone knows it's going to be really hard to get there and there are times when best will in the world sort of thing you can't control that, but that's one of the most underwhelming things of the whole report."

"To just say in 12 years we are going to reduce it by 120 and we are still going to have 430 suicides and that's going to be okay? I don't think so." 

The report also recommended stricter regulation for the sale and supply of alcohol.

However, Macpherson said he doesn't think alcohol is the driving New Zealand's mental health problems.

"It is a drug and it does cause problems but I think that's always been in the case. There are some other drugs, synthetic cannabis and P and things like that, that lead more directly to mental health problems and cause a lot of strife within some of the acute mental health units."

"They need to find a better way of handling that, at the moment it's all mixed in with general mental health problems and I would be focussing more on that area than on alcohol." 

The Government will formally respond to the report's findings by March next year.


Where to get help:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

Or if you need to talk to someone else:

Lifeline – 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Youthline – 0800 376 633 or free text 234
Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (for under 18s)
What's Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds 1pm–10pm weekdays and 3pm–10pm weekends)
Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757 or free text 4202
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
OUTLine NZ – 0800 688 5463
Healthline – 0800 611 116