Unsurprisingly, given New Zealand’s suicide rates, 94 of the stories submitted were about suicide, including attempted suicides. According to the Office of the Director of Mental Health’s most recent annual report, suicide accounts for a third of all deaths in those aged 15-24 and New Zealand’s youth suicide rate is the highest in the OECD - double that of Australia.
Many of the stories about suicide were submitted by family members of people who had died by suicide. A common theme in those stories was a profound frustration at feeling shut out of the care for their family member. Families said they were not consulted or kept informed, and some felt largely unsupported in very difficult times.
“I lost a daughter in 2002 to suicide. She had tried to get help for many years and was 38 when she died. It was very difficult to understand what was the problem until after her death, as being an adult no one helped her family by explaining what her difficulties were. What I find very hard now is to hear stories that indicate families are still not included enough in the team to support someone with mental health problems, when the person wants that to happen. This doesn't happen when a family member has a physical illness.”
“[My past fiancee] drowned in 2001. When he had appointments with his psychiatrist they would only see him once a month for about 20 minutes and would use this short visit as a basis for ascertaining whether his medications were appropriate. They never asked me how he was and I saw him every day and could have given them information that was highly relevant. I felt frustrated at being locked out of this process and I felt they should include partners in the assessment process.”