Warning: This story deals with suicide and may be upsetting.
A request by the parents of Nicky Stevens for a district health board to withdraw its complaint to the Solicitor-General asking for a second coroner's inquest into their son's death, is being considered.
Waikato District Health Board's new commissioner Dr Karen Poutasi gave assurances to Jane Stevens and Dave Macpherson in a meeting today that she would consider their plea to drop the complaint.
In February the DHB, then headed by interim chief executive Derek Wright and board chairwoman Sally Webb, launched an attack on last year's inquest conducted by Coroner Dr Wallace Bain which found Nicholas Taiaroa Macpherson Stevens' death was avoidable.
The 21-year-old killed himself after leaving the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre unescorted for a cigarette in March 2015, despite express direction from his parents not to let him go out unchaperoned.
Bain found Nicky took his life in the precise manner and place he said he would and that the DHB's treatment fell well short of what Nicky and his parents expected.
After Macpherson and Stevens asked for an apology and compensation the DHB, through its lawyer Paul White, wrote to the Solicitor-General asking for a new coroner and another inquest citing "procedural errors" and conduct concerns.
But earlier this month the board, of which Macpherson was a first-term member, was sacked by Health Minister Dr David Clark and Poutasi was installed as commissioner.
Stevens called the meeting with Poutasi, which followed one on the same issue with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday, positive.
"This is the opportunity for things to be done differently and a respectful process be put in place going ahead," Stevens said.
Mental health care battle: Stevens whānau seek solution from PM
"It serves no constructive purpose for anyone including the DHB to go forward with this complaint. There's no substance to it.
"I just don't want to have to go through anymore. We've been through enough. It's time to start actually acknowledging that there are people's lives being turned upside down in all of this."
Stevens said they made a clear request for the complaint, currently being investigated by Crown Law, to be stopped and Poutasi agreed to consider the request.
A DHB spokeswoman confirmed that but said there was no time frame on when Poutasi would decide.
Stevens said the whānau's experience with the DHB after Nicky's death had been appalling compared with the process with police, who admitted mistakes in the search for Nicky that meant no officials looked for him for two days.
"We talked about the comparisons between the respectful process that was undertaken with the police inquiry and the totally horrendous process that we've had to deal with, with the DHB.
"We were having to go through those processes concurrently and they were planets apart."
The whānau, including Nicky's older brother Tony Stevens, told Ardern they wanted to ensure "this nightmare" never happened again to any other family.
"So far we feel we have been miserably failed by the system. Over the years since Nicky died we discovered these problems have been happening on a tragically regular basis."
Last week there were two deaths of patients in a North Shore Hospital mental health unit.
Stevens said Ardern requested the whānau provide feedback on the Wellbeing Budget, to be announced next Thursday, and the Government's response to its mental health inquiry, also expected next week.
Macpherson and Stevens' recommendations to the inquiry, reiterated by Bain in Nicky's inquest findings in December last year, were that advocacy, support and legal aid be provided to suicide-bereaved families.
There is currently a petition with more than 1200 signatures calling for legal aid for the families of suicide victims to negotiate the coronial and other processes.
In a statement, the Prime Minister said she appreciated the time and travel Nicky's family undertook to take up the offer to meet.
They discussed how bereaved families can be better supported with counselling and other services during the coronial process, the statement said.
"The Prime Minister made it clear that because there is an ongoing legal process it is outside her remit to become involved in the case.
"She didn't want that to be an excuse not to meet and hear about their experiences first-hand."
Crown Law has sought submissions on the complaint.
Stevens said she and Macpherson told Ardern and Poutasi they wanted the case settled once and for all.
"Because actually we need to get on with the work of finding solutions and making the changes that need to happen to stop this sort of tragedy."
Where to get help:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE : 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE : 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP : 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757