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To: Hon Kelvin Davis - MP for Te Tai Tokerau, Doctor Shane Reti - Whangarei Minister of Parliament, Carla na Nagara - Director of the Suicide Prevention Office, David Clark - Health Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern - Prime Minister

People bereaved by suicide within Aotearoa New Zealand need better support

People bereaved by suicide within Aotearoa New Zealand need better support

*This petition discusses matters relating to suicide.

What we would like to see implemented is a free nationwide support service particularly targeted to people Bereaved by Suicide that starts from the moment they are informed of their loved ones passing to at least six months to a year afterward.

This service will be an agency that will walk with the loved ones through funeral processes, coronial processes, budgeting advice, possible grants from Work and Income New Zealand for funeral costs, law advice for issues such as property or wills, mediation and family strengthening processes, and referral to counselling services among the many things a bereaved by suicide person/family may need.

The families would have the choice to not utilise this service; nevertheless, I feel it should be offered at the time of their loved ones passing and again further on for example in three months as a precaution. It will be a system where families who do choose to utilise it will have case files with the agency, and an allocated social worker for at least six months to a year after their loved one’s suicide with monthly check-ins.


Why is this important?

We are two students currently in the fourth year of our Social Services Degree, and both of us have lived experience of losing a loved one by suicide. We believe the lack of support for those bereaved by suicide is a social justice issue that needs to be addressed.

Caro - "In 2017 I lost my brother Declan Peachey to suicide he was 35 and a father of three children. There was no support. My family and I had to struggle alone. Although the pain will never fully be erased, It was only because I found help through counselling (initiated by me), that I myself have started to heal and move on. Not everyone can afford to receive counseling, and not everyone has the means to find support for themselves".

"Killarney- In 2012 I experienced losing someone to suicide for the first time. I lost two friends in high school, then in 2017 I lost one of my best friends and then at the beginning of this year we lost a family member. During this time none of us received any support nor did the families involved. The grief and healing process was something that we had to do alone. Access to supports can be expensive and reaching out can be difficult".

Estimates made in the past tell us that for every person who completes suicide, six people within their close circle are impacted or affected greatly. More current literature shows that this is a severe underestimate and the number could be around 18 people affected (Hanschmidt F, Lehnig F, Riedel-Heller SG, Kersting A, 2016).

Those Bereaved by Suicide, have much in common with those who lose a loved one to any other death. They suffer the usual symptoms of grief, such as cognitive, emotional and somatic difficulties however, they are also more likely to experience “complicated grief”.
Complicated grief entails prolonged grieving, with characteristics such as a yearning for the loved one, pain that stays fresh, avoidance of reminders about their loved one’s passing, anxiety, depression, panic disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), they may have difficulty re-establishing a meaningful life and finally, may contemplate or complete suicide themselves. Not everyone bereaved by suicide might suffer from complicated grief, however, stigmatisation and feelings of guilt, or poor family relations, for example, may exacerbate the chances of them doing so. (Tal Young, I., Iglewicz, A., Glorioso, D., Lanouette, N., Seay, K., Ilapakurti, M., & Zisook, S. 2012; Hanschmidt F, Lehnig F, Riedel-Heller SG, Kersting A. 2016).

We believe that the creation of a nationwide support service particularly targeted towards people bereaved by suicide would help to alleviate if not eliminate complicated grief symptoms, prevent possible further suicides, and remove the stigmatisation and marginalisation that those who are bereaved by suicide may face.
We believe this goal is achievable because, the Suicide Prevention Office is already in service, and this would be a natural progression and direction for it to take alongside suicide prevention. It would be an opportunity for postvention as well as prevention.

Ministry of Health. 2019. Every Life Matters - He Tapu te Oranga o ia Tangata: Suicide Prevention Strategy 2019–2029 and Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2019–2024 for Aotearoa New Zealand. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
Hanschmidt F, Lehnig F, Riedel-Heller SG, Kersting A (2016) The Stigma of Suicide Survivorship and Related Consequences—A Systematic Review. PLoS ONE 11(9): e0162688. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0162688 (2019) Suicide Prevention Office gets down to work 2019 Press Release RT HON JACINDA ARDERN HON DR DAVID CLARK (2019) Suicide Prevention Office to drive action to save lives:10 SEPTEMBER 2019 Press Release RT HON JACINDA ARDERN HON DR DAVID CLARK
Ministry of Health. (2019). New suicide prevention director: ‘This effort needs all of us’: Media release 10 October 2019.
Tal Young, I., Iglewicz, A., Glorioso, D., Lanouette, N., Seay, K., Ilapakurti, M., & Zisook, S. (2012). Suicide bereavement and complicated grief. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 14(2), 177–186.

New Zealand

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