What the Government is doing to prevent suicide

New Zealand has had a long-term commitment to suicide prevention, with current activity guided by the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy 2006–2016.

The goals of the Strategy are supported by the initiatives in the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2013–2016. This activity sits within the context of government-led mental health promotion and service development, and a wide range of initiatives that indirectly contribute to reducing risk factors for suicide at national and local levels.

A Strategy to Prevent Suicide in New Zealand: Draft for public consultation

The current strategy is well regarded nationally and internationally, however, it and the Action Plan have come to an end. A draft of a new strategy, which builds off the current strategy, has been developed and was released for public consultation on 12 April 2017. Public consultation closed on 26 June 2017.

A copy of the draft suicide prevention strategy can be found on the following page:

Stay informed

If you would like to be kept informed about the development of the new Strategy, please send your name and contact details through to suicideprevention@moh.govt.nz.

New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy 2006–2016

Launched by the Ministry of Health in June 2006, the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy 2006–2016 provides a framework for New Zealand’s suicide prevention efforts over a 10-year period. Its overarching aim is to reduce the rate of suicidal behaviour and its effects on the lives of New Zealanders, while taking into account that suicide affects certain groups more than others.

The strategy has 7 goals.

  1. Promote mental health and well-being, and prevent mental health problems.
  2. Improve the care of people who are experiencing mental disorders associated with suicidal behaviour.
  3. Improve the care of people who make non-fatal suicide attempts.
  4. Reduce access to the means of suicide.
  5. Promote the safe reporting and portrayal of suicidal behaviour by the media.
  6. Support families/whānau, friends and others affected by a suicide or suicide attempt.
  7. Expand the evidence about the rates, causes and effective interventions.

A wide range of government and community initiatives have been based around these 7 goals, and this new work is reflected in the current Action Plan.

New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2013–2016

As the second Action Plan under the Strategy, the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2013–2016 outlines a programme of actions the Government is implementing in the final 4 years of the Strategy. It is a cross-government Action Plan bringing together the work of 8 agencies.

The Action Plan includes actions designed to:

  • address the impact of suicide on families, whānau and communities by strengthening support for family, whānau and communities
  • build the evidence base, specifically around what works for Māori and Pasifika
  • extend existing services, specifically addressing geographical gaps in the coverage of services
  • strengthen suicide prevention targeted to high risk populations who are in contact with agencies.

The Action Plan builds on the previous Action Plan, which covered the period 2008–2012. Both action plans reflect the goals of the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy 2006–2016.

For more information on the 30 initiatives in the current Action Plan see Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2013–2016 initiatives.

Government suicide prevention efforts

Coordinated by the Ministry of Health, 8 government agencies are responsible for implementation of actions in the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2013–2016: the Ministries of Health, Education, Justice, Social Development and Youth Development; Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki; the Department of Corrections and New Zealand Police.

Implementation agencies meet regularly through the Inter-Agency Committee on Suicide Prevention to coordinate and support implementation of suicide prevention activities and look for opportunities for further synergies. Other agencies represented on the Committee include the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Ministry for Women, Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and Te Puni Kōkiri.

A Ministerial Committee on Suicide Prevention guided direction and implementation of the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy 2006–2016, and Cabinet now receives 6-monthly updates on the progress of the projects under New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2013–2016.

Funding suicide prevention activity

The Government has committed $25 million over 4 years to implement the 30 actions in the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2013–2016. These actions are listed at Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2013–2016: Initiatives.

This funding is supplemented by a range of other activities that directly and indirectly contribute to preventing suicide – ranging from mental wellbeing and resilience-building initiatives to improving access to mental health care – funded by government agencies, DHBs, NGOs, and philanthropic groups. For more information:

In this section

Back to top