A new group has been formed by people concerned with the huge numbers of people dying in New Zealand from suicide. CASPER or Community Action on Suicide Prevention, Education & Research was launched at a function on the North Shore last night.
North Shore woman Maria Bradshaw who lost her 17 year old son Toran presented up to date damning research to a large group of people including bereaved family members, health professionals, youth workers, young people, businessmen and women, NGOs and counsellors. Many were visibly shocked by information from the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee that 10% of deaths of 10 year olds in New Zealand are from suicide, that Maori and Pacific youth account for almost 50% of youth suicides and that suicide amongst young women show an upward trend.
With around 10 people committing suicide a week in New Zealand, a call was made for families and communities to be provided with the information on suicide they need to keep their members safe. The information provided by SPINZ and the Ministry of Health that suicide rates are falling and that current prevention activities are effective were strongly challenged with data showing the figures these organisations produce and their analysis are inaccurate and misleading. Their latest report revealed that 483 people had committed suicide in 2007 when the recently released figures from the Chief Coroner showed that the correct figure was 541, a huge increase on the year before.
Mental health is often touted as the solution, however it was disclosed psychiatric intervention and treatments can worsen the risks of suicide to the point of double.
A 2004 study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry showed that the introduction of mental health initiatives rather than preventing suicide, actually increased suicide. This was a large study reviewing suicide prevention strategies of 100 countries.
Steve Green, Director of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) also spoke of his support as a founding member of CASPER, encouraging people to find out the facts and raise awareness of these issues. "People need practical help not psychotropic drugs with their horrendous side effects; it's time a thorough inquiry is conducted into suicide, its causes, prevention and mental health failings must be a part of this," Mr Green said.
CASPER aims to achieve a voice for families bereaved by suicide and to ensure they are accorded similar rights of families who were victims of crime.
What CASPER Believe:
Knowledge is power
Suicide is a social, not medical, issue.
Empowered, well informed families and communities are the key to suicide prevention
Suicide flourishes in silence.
Current suicide prevention strategies do not, and can not, work.
What CASPER does:
Gather and analyse national and international information on suicide and its prevention.
Put the information into a format able to be shared with those who can make a difference - families and the community.
Lobby for changes to legislation, policy and practice.
Support families seeking truth, justice and accountability.
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