Arresting suicide victims


Just consider this for a moment…

Police lay charges against 100-plus people who attempt suicide or suffer mental health crises

It is a typical, wet Greymouth evening. A woman’s scream breaks the night. Lights burst on in the house and a man comes sprinting out. The garage door is smashed off its hinges but he squeezes through a space in the wall.

A young woman is frantically trying to lift a young man, her ex-boyfriend. Peter, his flatmate, rushes to help. The young man, Caleb, collapses to the ground, gasping for breath. Peter slaps him on the back, checks he’s OK. 

Sirens are wailing in the distance. The young man is blue but breathing, the police report later reads. Only Peter remembers to call Caleb’s family.

Meanwhile, the police have undertaken a search under the  Search and Surveillance Act They’ve found two cannabis plants in the backyard. Caleb, pictured right, quickly confesses. 

…remember the Search & Surveillance Act folks? Remember how that was supposed to be used against terrorists who were threatening the country with immediate violence? Are you shocked the cops are invoking it on vulnerable suicide victims to score easy busts?

How the hell does arresting a suicide victim help that person? How cruel have we become under 9 years of National that arresting suicide victims is even considered a positive step forward?

People who have attempted suicide need help, they need healing, they need compassion. What they don’t need is to be arrested by the bloody Police!

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Who have we become in just under a decade? The values of this country when dealing with the most vulnerable amongst us is sickening.


  1. Well if you want an easy way to repress any social groups that pose a threat to the bosses state, you criminalise drug use. Everybody with a brain or Google knows the war on drugs in the US was kicked off by the threat of black uprisings in the big cities.

    The NACTs have modeled our police state on the US, and even voted out of office, the police state they developed rolls on.

    Bring on the Genter Bill in the first 100 days and cut the guts out of the criminalisation of the majority of NZs, the massive prison population and a major cause of suicide.

    Shake Winston to wake up, get over his fetish for binding referendums and back the Genter Bill. After all 68% of NZF supporters back legalisation.

    Tell Jacinda to apply a bit of her ‘kindness’ to those left dangling by decades of neo-liberalism and abolish the criminalising of working people.

  2. In September my 72 year old husband was arrested for restraining me in a park. He has an extensive, well documented 10 year psychiatric history and has a Psychogeriatrician at present. I was told by the police that I would get more help for my husband by making a statement and was encouraged by police and local medical centre to do so. My husband was detained overnight in a police cell and appeared in court the next day. We have another court appearance next week. The only ‘help’ I have received so far has been steep lawyers bills-and more to come. This is not something I ever expected in my life especially in my seventies and has been very upsetting and stressful. Mental Health have been silent on the matter and I was unable to recant my police statement as there were witnesses. I have been told that the charges will disappear at the hearing. My respect for Mental Health and the Police is now non existent.

  3. Are there any statistics to show this is a new thing?
    Have the police become more feral under National?
    I very much doubt that.
    Anyway, with Stuart Nash as Minister of Police I’m sure things will improve, maybe he could get Simon Lusk to help sell the concept of a kinder more sensitive police force….

  4. Wasn’t it something to do with the way the law is drafted? The police can’t order a mental health assessment on private property. If they arrest someone and take them back to the cells they can. Not saying it’s ideal, but part of a pragmatic solution by police rather than a vindictive deep state conspiracy. Hopefully the new Govt will fund mental health so the police don’t have to be first responders.
    Dave Brown – FYI the article quotes the boys mother as saying it was his drug use that significantly damaged him and put him on the path to his attempted suicide.

  5. “remember the Search & Surveillance Act folks? Remember how that was supposed to be used against terrorists who were threatening the country with immediate violence? Are you shocked the cops are invoking it on vulnerable suicide victims to score easy busts?”

    Yes the police are very scarry here they appear to be pushing drivers to speed and die and now they use overt surveillence practices to scare the communioty.

    I would say the police are out of control now, as national gave them too much power.

  6. Not a very well written article but it does seem the the police in these cases are between a rock and a hard place.
    In the middle there are these two paragraphs.

    “Police have no power to enforce the Mental Health Act on private property. It is only with the permission of the patient or under the direct instructions from the crisis team that they can bring the patient back to the emergency room.”
    emergency room? This is New Zealand where they are called Accident Departments.So what can they do?
    “Officers may charge an individual considered to be at risk in order to bring them back to the cells to await assessment but it is often necessary if a crisis team cannot be accessed.”

    It’s actually quite understandable that a crisis team isn’t necessarily available in a town of 1,000 people so it would seem that the police had two choices:
    Depart the scene or charge the guy with something so he could be assessed.
    So what to do?
    Give the police increased powers so they can have the power to take the patient to an Accident Dept?
    Don’t think so.
    Increase dramatically the number of crisis teams so every small town has one 24/7.
    Don’t think so.
    Seems the best solution is to drop it on a new keen Minister and let him try to find a solution for an ongoing problem.

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