Dave Macpherson – At Last – we hear from Mental Health Commissioner on Suicides….

By   /   March 5, 2018  /   10 Comments

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Not to be put off by the years-long public debate about this country leading youth suicide statistics from the wrong end, Commissioner Kevin Allan has bravely gone where no-one employed by the previous Government had hitherto dared to tread – he has actually (wait for it…) recommended a 10% reduction in suicides target! That’s correct – not zero, not halving it, not even the mild 20% reduction that the current Health Minister suggested while in opposition – but a nice, fat, round 10%.

Carefully waiting until the new Government was in place, and the Mental Health Inquiry announced, to improve his appearance of relevance the Mental Health Commissioner – a staff member of the Health & Disability Commission – has finally pronounced on the state of mental health and suicides in New Zealand.

Not to be put off by the years-long public debate about this country leading youth suicide statistics from the wrong end, Commissioner Kevin Allan has bravely gone where no-one employed by the previous Government had hitherto dared to tread – he has actually (wait for it…) recommended a 10% reduction in suicides target!

That’s correct – not zero, not halving it, not even the mild 20% reduction that the current Health Minister suggested while in opposition – but a nice, fat, round 10%.

To give him some credit for picking up on the public mood, Commissioner Allan has called for a policy of “zero tolerance of suicide in services.” Note the wording here: “in services” – which means suicides occurring in Government-funded mental health facilities.

Last year, 180 of the 606 recorded suicides in New Zealand happened “in services”, so the “zero tolerance” is to the 180, and presumably the 10% reduction target should cause the remaining 426 suicides last year to reduce by 43 to 383 in the coming year.

Not wanting to be too sarcastic, I state here and now that ANY reduction in suicides is a good thing – but surely what this country wants is for us to aim a little higher – like for zero tolerance for ANY suicide, and for the country’s mental health services not to rest until that has been achieved?

Don’t worry about “in service” or in the community, NO suicide should be acceptable in a modern society, and I believe EVERY suicide is preventable, given the right circumstances and support arrangements.

This does not mean that the simple setting of a zero suicide target will overnight cause this terrible scourge on our society to be wiped out – it will take years of dedicated work in all the communities around New Zealand, a very significant increase in support from the Government, and a massive change in attitude and culture from the existing mental health services – but if we don’t aim for it, we sure as hell have no chance of getting anywhere near it!

Going back to my friend the ever-so-slightly irrelevant Commissioner Allan – where the hell has he been when our sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers have been victims of suicides in record numbers over the last seven years?

Has he been shouting from his lofty Government position about how our mental health system is not working; or even yelling encouragement from the sidelines to those calling for changes? No, he’s been pretty damned silent, and now I suspect he has seen that the new Government has already mooted a separate Mental Health Commission, and is trying to prove his relevance while angling for a job there; maybe the top job?

I can’t help but feel cynical when I see this blatant jumping on of the bandwagon AFTER the hard work has been done – remembering in my own family’s case that Commissioner Allan’s office told us to go away and not to bother presenting our complaints about the “in service” death of our son to his office until AFTER all other avenues had been worked through. Given that – after 3 years – we don’t yet have a confirmed Coroner’s hearing, and that complaints to his office seem to take at least 2-3 years to reach fruition, we would be stupid, or naïve, or both, to put any reliance in a system run by this person.

 

Dave Macpherson is TDB’s mental health blogger. He became a Waikato DHB member after his son died from mental health incompetence.

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10 Comments

  1. R.P. Mcmurphy says:

    This is twaddle. Suicide in New Zealand is a social distress syndrome and pretending that it can be SORTED is a complete kiwblah nonsense.
    Anybody who tells their doctor they are going to commit suicide is merely reproaching their doctor for not doing anything for their pain.
    Real suicides dont tell anyone they just do it. If anyone wants to understand suicide then they must read Man Against Himself by Karl Menninger. Then they can start flapping their gums instead of just collecting a government salary for doing nothing.

  2. The Chairman says:

    I’m surprised the Commissioner didn’t fear being laughed out of office for such an announcement.

    • Marc says:

      At the HDC Office they all laugh at each other all the time, as they joke about the stupid people out there, who take them serious.

      Glossy Annual Reports actually cover up appalling statistics, and that they do damned little, while being highly paid ‘professionals’.

  3. Andrewo says:

    In order to reduce suicides we need firstly to understand the causes of suicide and secondly make appropriate changes in our society so as to make a change for the better.

    At this stage I don’t see any analysis taking place, just a promise to achieve a percentage reduction.

    How the hell is that going to work if we don’t understand the causes of the problem and haven’t begun to address them?

  4. Helena says:

    Clown

  5. Jarred Gray says:

    Too little too late

  6. Marc says:

    Quote:

    “Going back to my friend the ever-so-slightly irrelevant Commissioner Allan – where the hell has he been when our sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers have been victims of suicides in record numbers over the last seven years?”

    Well, Dave, welcome to the club of insiders, who know the HDC (Health and Disability Commissioner) is a sick ‘joke’, really, doing all to NOT bother holding medical practitioners, other health professionals and services they work for to account.

    Endless complaints get thrown back at complainants, with comments like ‘unnecessary to investigate’, ‘no further action needed’, ‘advice given’, ‘measures to offer further training’ recommended, bla, bla, bla. The HDC Act 1994 offers the Commissioner(s) endless DISCRETION to do damned little.

    The Mental Health Commission should never have ended up under the umbrella of the HDC, as it is a fig leaf kind of position, there only to give an appearance of somebody doing something, while these people get paid fat salaries and simply use every provision in the law, to apply ‘discretion’ and do damned little, except write glossy annual reports, showing statistics, that are so ‘polished’ they only show ‘great services’ being delivered by them.

    Read this and you will understand:
    http://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/health-and-disability-commissioner-can-we-trust-in-hdc-independence/

    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2015/10/04/how-the-n-z-health-and-disability-commissioner-let-off-a-biased-designated-doctor/

    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/how-the-hdc-throws-out-valid-complaints-and-protects-code-breaching-health-professionals-a-true-story/

    And you can add the Ombudsmen Office to the same kind of overpaid ‘commissioners’, doing too little too late:
    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2017/11/21/how-the-new-zealand-ombudsman-effectively-provides-cover-for-the-hdc-an-information-request-complaint-case/

    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/how-the-n-z-ombudsman-effectively-provides-cover-for-the-hdc-report-post-28-11-17.pdf

    One would want to laugh about all this, if it was not so serious and so sad.

  7. Ali says:

    This explains the incredibly irrelevant reply I got to a complaint I made a few years back. Yes impossible to make a complaint when the people involved would not supply me with a name which Health and Disabilities had to have on the form – round and round and round we went. The fact I didn’t know the name of my ‘therapist’ (who I never met) was proof of what I was saying you freaking imbeciles!!!!!

  8. Tom Gardner says:

    Hmmm. Reduction, yes. But zero suicides is the aim? Shades of Bob Hawke’s brave announcement, back then, that child poverty would be eliminated by 2000.

    Real world, and all that.

  9. Marc says:

    This guy deserves to be ‘talked to’, you get it? In a firm and serious manner, as this BS should simply not be allowed, but mostly timid Kiwis, shy away from holding the leading white collar crims to account.