A group of bereaved families who campaigned for change in the mental health system say they're heartbroken to have not been asked for their feedback on the Government's upcoming suicide prevention plan.

The Ministry of Health has yet officially released the draft of its Every Life Matters Suicide Prevention Strategy, but it has been handed out to some stakeholders for feedback.

The parents of Ross Taylor, Harry McLean and Nicky Stevens, who died by suicide, say they had to learn about the details of the report from media this week and were never given a chance to voice their views.

In an open letter to the Ministry of Health, Corinda Taylor, Maria Dillon and Jane Stevens said they were incredibly saddened to have been left out.


"When we contacted you last week, we were shocked that we had not been offered the opportunity to provide feedback. It took three days for you to respond to our request and the very last-minute offer for us to have input was disrespectfully short and over a weekend - it was impossible to meet," the families wrote.

"We are now left with the strong impression that Ministry of Health does not value our input."

The trio said they had actively campaigned for the Government's Mental Health Inquiry in the lead-up to the 2017 election, met with Health Minister David Clark and all worked with the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry Panel.

Jane Stevens says the parents hope they can still give feedback on the plan. Photo / Doug Sherring
Jane Stevens says the parents hope they can still give feedback on the plan. Photo / Doug Sherring

The group had earlier contacted officials and were told to wait, Jane Stevens said.

"We're not just an inconvenient add-on," she said.

"People who have been through this, who have been through these experiences have a lot to offer and need to be at the table or it just ends up being another bureaucracy."

In the letter, the parents said their lived experience gave them a unique voice.

"We are passionate about the need for change, and are doing everything that we can, to highlight the issues, and prevent other families from also becoming suicide bereaved."


Jane said the families had yet to be handed a copy of the report but were still keen to give their input in the next stage of consultation.

Comment has been requested from the Ministry of Health.

Stuff this week reported the Every Life Matters draft plan would propose a national suicide prevention office, new guidelines for social media and a free bereavement counselling service.

Mental Health Foundation chief Shaun Robinson told the Herald the draft report was a positive step forward by including a specific action plan but that it needed to be more specific.

"New Zealand has been without a direction for how to respond to the issue of suicide for several years now, and that's really, completely unacceptable when it's an issue of the magnitude that it is," he said.

"It's great that there is an action plan but it needs to be more specific. The more clearly this can spell out who needs to do what, the responsibilities of different Government agencies, of DHBs and communities ... the better it's going to be."

Where to get help:

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)

• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)

• Youth services: (06) 3555 906

• Youthline: 0800 376 633

• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)

• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)

• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.