Suicide Prevention and Postvention Action Plan 2022-2025

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Suicide is devastating for all those personally affected, and a tragedy for society as a whole.

The effects of suicide often spread wide within a community, resulting not only in the loss of loved ones, but also impacting whānau, friends and wider circles within which an individual has influence. Research suggests that for every suicide, up to 14 people become profoundly affected, and this exposure can carry a risk of future suicidality in the people exposed.

Suicide affects people from all communities and population groups within Aotearoa. Māori, and particularly young Māori, are significantly more likely to die from suicide than non-Māori, however. In fact, rates of suicide among Māori youth (both males and females) are among the highest globally. Clearly more can, and must be done to support people who think about, attempt, or are affected by suicide.

We at the Department of Corrections (Ara Poutama Aotearoa) recognise that individuals serving prison or community sentences are at higher risk of suicide than the general public. Clearly some risk factors for suicide will pre-date an individual’s arrival in custody. Others, such as social isolation or feelings of shame, whakamā or guilt, may be a direct consequence of, or may be exacerbated by, their incarceration.

We know that the causes of suicide are multifaceted and complex, and that accurately predicting when a person might attempt to take their own life can be particularly difficult. Alone, no single person, whānau, agency or iwi can reduce suicide rates in Aotearoa, but every small action can make a difference. In alignment with this whakaaro, we are strongly committed to doing our part in preventing unnatural deaths, both among the people in our care and management, and across Aotearoa more broadly.