Is the government really serious about preventing suicide? How can the government support state funded assisted suicide while on the other hand proposing a state funded Suicide Prevention Strategy?

The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern announced the government’s Suicide Prevention Strategy on Tuesday 10 September. She said “We believe that every life matters and by working together we can achieve a future where there is no suicide.” She is appalled at the frightening estimated suicide total of 685 men, women and children who killed themselves in 2018/19. With government support for assisted suicide in the Seymour bill what sort of message is the government giving to youth, Maori and Pacific Islanders? We have the highest youth suicide rate in the OECD with 73 youths 15 to 19 this year (up from 53 for last year). Maori have increased to 169 this year, up from 142 in the previous year and Pacifica up from 23 last year to 34 this year.

Right to Life wrote to the Minister of Health, the Hon Dr David Clark in June and asked him how he could present a new Suicide Prevention Strategy to eliminate suicide while at the same time supporting the End of Life Choice bill which promoted assisted suicide. He was evasive and dismissed our question by stating that, “this is a highly emotive issue for many people and that the matters you have spoken of are complex.”

The matters are not complex they are simple. Suicide is the intentional taking of one’s life as the Minister admitted when he stated: “The draft suicide prevention strategy seeks to prevent deaths by suicide, where suicide is defined as someone intentionally taking their own life by their own means.” Why are the Minister and government in denial that assisted suicide in the Seymour bill is suicide?

Right to Life welcomes the government’s “Suicide Prevention Strategy 2019–2029 (Every Life Matters) and Action Plan 2019–2024” and acknowledges that suicide is a national tragedy which hurts both families and our communities. However, the reality is that the Prime Minister knows that under her government, key social “well-being” indicators such as homelessness, state house waiting lists, and child poverty have deteriorated. Our economy is now slowing and financial pressure on families is mounting. There is now a very real risk that the number of suicides in New Zealand will continue to escalate under this Labour led government.

Right to Life questions the government’s commitment to reducing our dreadful suicide statistics. In June 2019 a total of 33 Labour MPs, nine NZ First MPs and 8 Green MPs, voted to support the End of Life Choice bill at its second reading. This Private Member’s bill of David Seymour’s seeks to legalise assisted suicide for those who have a serious terminal illness. How can the Prime Minister say that she was wary of sending any message “that there was a tolerance for suicide in New Zealand.”

How can the government on one hand say that they are going to invest $40 million on a Suicide Prevention Strategy to reduce suicide in New Zealand, while on the other hand invest untold millions in providing doctor assisted suicide? This would be the eventuality should the EOLCB that will empower doctors to kill their patients or assist in their suicide, be passed.

The taxpayers of New Zealand have got a right to ask why are we being asked to fund the government with millions of dollars to fund its Suicide Prevention Strategy to eliminate suicide, while the government supports the EOLCB that will provide government funded assisted suicide?

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