New Director for the Suicide Prevention Office

on 28 June

New Director for the Suicide Prevention Office

Kia ora koutou

I am really pleased to announce that Matthew Tukaki (Ngāi Te Rangi) has been appointed as the new Director of the Suicide Prevention Office.

The Suicide Prevention Office opened in late 2019 and has built a solid foundation providing kaitiakitanga (leadership and stewardship) for suicide prevention efforts across Aotearoa New Zealand.

Photo of Arran Culver

Dr Arran Culver
Acting Deputy Director-General
Mental Health and Addiction Directorate

Matthew’s appointment renews the Office’s efforts on improving outcomes across the board, and particularly for Māori. We need continued strong leadership and advocacy in this area, and Matthew’s experience and passion for this mahi will help to build and strengthen this effort.

Matthew starts in the role on 1 July and has told me he’s looking forward to connecting with as many people and organisations as possible to make a meaningful difference from day one.

I’d also like to thank Dr Sarah Hetrick for her outstanding work as Acting Director since October last year while the search for a permanent appointment was underway. 

Ngā mihi nui,

About the Suicide Prevention Office

We believe that every life matters and, by working together, we can achieve a future where there is no suicide in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Every Life Matters - He Tapu te Oranga o ia Tangata provides a clear vision and specific actions for preventing suicide in New Zealand and is made up of the Suicide Prevention Strategy 2019–2029 and the Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2019–2024.

A key action identified in Every Life Matters was establishing the Suicide Prevention Office (SPO) to provide national leadership, championing and coordinating the implementation of suicide prevention and postvention efforts.

The SPO provides a central place for oversight and leadership of suicide prevention and postvention work across the country, supporting Māori leadership, and working closely with communities, population groups experiencing high numbers or rates of suicide, and suicide prevention groups, organisations, and agencies to achieve a future where there is no suicide in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Suicide Prevention Office remains within the Ministry of Health from 1 July, with a focus on strategy, policy, regulation and monitoring the outcomes achieved by the system as a whole. Planning and commissioning functions for suicide prevention and postvention initiatives will sit within Health New Zealand. 

Key achievements of the Suicide Prevention Office

The SPO continues to make good progress implementing He Tapu te Oranga.

  • Seven Suicide Prevention Community Funds targeted at Māori, Pacific, and Youth have been established since 2019
  • Between February 2021 and March 2022, almost 4,500 people across Aotearoa received government funded LifeKeepers training and gained valuable suicide prevention skills.
  • Additionally, a range of other organisations, such as other government agencies, universities, and private businesses, have paid to have LifeKeepers training delivered to their staff.
  • Launched in September 2021, the Suicide Bereaved Response Service Aoake te Rā continues to grow, with 120 providers signed up and able to deliver services within all DHB areas.
  • Reviewing the coronial process for investigating suicide has begun. The result of the review will be recommendations about what changes could be made to improve the process. This is a cross-government collaborative process with representatives of bereaved families and whānau as well as Te Ao Māori and tikanga oversight. The review is expected to be completed by September 2022. 
  • In response to a high-profile death and the ongoing lockdowns in Auckland in 2021, two social media campaigns (#chatsafe) reached over 400,000 young people and provided information about how to talk safely about suicide on social media.
  • The family and whānau suicide prevention information service continues to improve information available to whānau, with four new resources are now available to ensure better support for those experiencing suicidal distress and those bereaved by suicide.

Ministry of Health - Manatū Hauora

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