Every Life Matters could be a turning point

The Government’s acknowledgment that suicide is not exclusively a mental health problem could be a turning point for suicide prevention in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Lifeline Aotearoa Clinical Manager Renee Mathews says the Every Life Matters suicide prevention strategy and action plan is a huge step forward because it takes a trauma-informed best practice approach.

“We know that when you change from a deficit-based approach of “what is wrong with you?” to a trauma-informed approach of “what happened to you?” we can create understanding of where someone is and how they got there,” says Renee.

“We have seen this approach can make all the difference to someone who has reached the point where they feel hopeless, and that no one understands them.

“If this approach is applied across all services, I believe we will experience powerful change and make a real difference to the people who need crisis support.”

Renee said solving suicide encompasses much more than focusing on fixing the mental health system.

“It is also great to see how the Every Life Matters strategy extends beyond the health sector to business and community-led initiatives,” said Renee. “It is clear the strategy acknowledges the influencing sociocultural factors of suicidal behaviour and the requirement of a cross-government approach in response to this.

“Every Life Matters signals the beginning of a shift in attitude and approach toward suicide prevention,” says Renee. “Recognising suicide is preventable and Every Life Matters is the first step to making a real difference to the way we as a society respond to people who are in distress.”