New Zealand is well known for its struggles with suicide, especially amongst indigenous Māori and young people. I was privileged to be the first lived experience member on the Ministry of Health Suicide Prevention Task Force to help develop the first Suicide Prevention Strategy.
A big part of the change many of us want to see is a more inclusive society. By reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness, the potential for recovery and integration is enhanced. I was strategic advisor to the governments development of our national plan to work towards this.
It's well known that people often struggle the most when traditional mental health services are closed for anything except crisis situations. Evenings and weekends are when a simple chat can help if people are feeling unsettled and prevent things getting worse. I was privileged to put together the first professional Warmline as a peer support helpline service.
Every time we hear about suicide in the TV, radio or social media it has a huge impact on us and our communities. I led academic research into this with a special focus on how the news stories are different when suicide involves online technology.
As well as informing government guidelines on media reporting, this part was published in the peer-reviewed journal New Media and Society.
Reaching out for help can be a huge threshold to cross and helplines can help those who can't or don't want to visit a mental health or social service. I was privileged to be Lifeline's first national manager to bring together over a dozen silo'd services into one cohesive platform of helping and online support.