Provide Suicide Prevention Funding to Grassroots Organisations to save lives

Provide Suicide Prevention Funding to Grassroots Organisations to save lives

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Taranaki Retreat Trust started this petition to Minister of Health – Hon Andrew Little


We are petitioning our Government, with urgency, to create a life-saving grant-making fund to enable grassroots, established, community suicide prevention work to happen.

This call is in response to the scale of need, and the lack of funding to sustain and provide for this work, which has reached critical level. We need this fund to be available NOW for the many hundreds of mental health support / suicide prevention organisations, charities and NGOs throughout Aotearoa/New Zealand.

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WHY? Here's a very brief story, shared with permission:

Thankyou for everyone reading this petition. Just last month, I reached the brink and tried to end my life. I just couldnt cope any more or see a way through my pain. My life was changed and I am still alive thanks to the help of a peer support worker who had been where I was and listened to my story and showed me the way to the hope I needed. He helped me find my answers and my hope. Without this, my beautiful children would now be without their dad, and that breaks my heart more than anything. You cant understand it unless you have been there. I cant believe that the place that helped me stay alive doesnt get the funding it needs, and they cant provide more peer support workers now because they cannot fundraise what they need at the moment because of covid levels. Where are the priorities. Please people sign this because it is something we can all do.

Tēnā koe, Hon Andrew Little. Ngā mihi nui - your government has prioritised funding for mental health services, and we can never thank you enough for all that you are doing. However, we are presenting this petition because that investment is simply not trickling down to the grassroots, and making the change we need to see. The community and the media have not been slow to spot this problem.

What we are asking our Government to do

A 2017 Ministry of Health Study estimated the costs of suicide in 2013 to be $1,945,540,000. That's before we get onto the far greater social, emotional, psychological and whānau harm - the ripple effects. We are petitioning our government to invest a fraction of that eight-year-old cost (just 2.5%), per year, for the next three years, in grassroots suicide prevention and postvention work. Going by those figures, if this fund were successful in saving just 14 lives a year, (which it undoubtedly will be) - then this will have been a smart economic investment. Like we say, that's before we get onto the much worse harm of what suicide does to us as whānau and community. Investing in prevention is surely a no-brainer.

We, the undersigned are asking you to establish a three-year-fund; a mere $50m per year - RIGHT NOW, to fund, enable and support ongoing grassroots suicide prevention.

We need that fund to be available:

  • Rapidly - the need is critical, right now - so, we ask for an uncomplicated application process with simple checks and balances in place, and a decision on funding made swiftly.
  • Equitably - not tagged to any specific target group - we need to help all New Zealanders who reach out for support. Not through contracts targeted to very specific circumstances or disbursed through DHBs (great as they are, but they have massive needs of their own to attend to). Not for massive health providers, but smaller grassroots organisations.
  • Sustainably - there seems to be an obsession for 'new projects' with a specific timescale (eg 12 month programmes). We don't think this is the best way forward. What Kiwis need is ongoing, sustained support. Setting up new short-term projects takes a heap of money and time in set-up, and then they're done; and what was provided briefly is over, just as people were starting to benefit. What we need is for organisations to be able to deliver what they're already good at delivering, but to grow and support their workforces in line with demand. We need money for wages. That's all.
  • Accountably - the services supported by this fund need to make a difference (save lives); so that money is not wasted on bureaucracy and administration, but is spent on service delivery - people supporting people.

We're asking you please to deliver this for a three year period, evaluate (with us) whether it works, and, if does, then grow it further.

Why GrassRoots Funding for Suicide Prevention is Crucial

The level of need faced by community (non DHB) providers doing suicide prevention, mental health and addictions support for people struggling to survive is at an all-time high. Tragically, we are losing Kiwis to suicide; the situation is not getting better, yet. Those services run on the smell of an oily rag and the passion, compassion and kindness of communities to make a difference; but they do need to be funded.

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 identifies a key change needed of: moving from a largely mental-health service-based response to enabling communities to nurture and support their whānau and families and community members when they are experiencing suicidal distress. This acknowledges how critically important community involvement is in making a real difference in suicide prevention. BUT, until those community organisation begin to receive real, solid funding in their mahi, they cannot deliver what is needed to make this possible.

Why are things so tough right now?

Our DHB services are there to attend to acute need; NGOs, charities and community groups are here to support people going through tough times where their need is not for acute clinical care. Hopefully this avoids acute care even being needed - this is the goal. However, there is an impact from shortfalls within DHBs' capacity to deliver even those acute support services. In many regions there are recruitment problems (exacerbated by the pandemic) to clinical services resulting in, in many cases, there not even being capacity to add people to waiting lists, let alone to begin therapy. In such cases,  the community acts as a safety net (keeping people safe while they wait).

What charities, community groups and NGOs are trying to deliver, right now, in providing that mental health safety net, is unsustainable without targeted funding support for suicide prevention, addressing the present crisis. There is a resource/needs/risks triangle - the community can provide the trained and supervised peer support workers to cover the breach - but it cannot self-fund this at the present level of demand.

Who is asking for this?

We are a suicide prevention NGO that supports Whānau who are struggling. You can read about us here. We are strongly expressing the urgent need for funding resource with loss of life as the outcome if this continues not to be forthcoming. We have repeatedly attended hui, approached ministers, lobbied our government, written to our Prime Minister... to no avail (yet!); and we are hoping that this petition approach will gather voices and bear some fruit; not just for ourselves, but for all charities, NGOs and community organisations to be able to access urgent funding. Please listen to us. Our organisation has heard the voice of many community organisations like ourselves where there is a need for solid, sustainable funding. We have listened to literally thousands of Kiwi Whānau who are struggling. We ache for them, and want to serve them better; to provide what they need, right now. We believe that we can do this. Our awesome people work incredibly hard. But they are at high risk of burn-out because of the volume of need in the suicide prevention space. This is why we are asking for help.

We find it ridiculous that the life-saving work we do has to depend on stuff like sausage sizzles to make it possible. Everyone who has signed this has been affected by suicide. We are talking about our people, our whānau, our rangatahi and tamariki; our future.

We honour those who have been lost to us, and offer this petition as a mark of aroha and respect to every single one of them.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!