Warning: This story deals with suicide and may be upsetting
The parents of Nicky Stevens, who took his own life while in the care of Waikato DHB's mental health facility in 2015, say while they support much of the thrust of the Government's inquiry into mental health, they are disappointed by its "weak" suicide prevention target.
Among the report's recommendations is a 20 per cent reduction in current numbers by 2030.
"While everyone recognises that the awful suicide statistics will be hard to turn around, it is vital that New Zealand aspires to a zero suicide target, which would be one sign of a truly healthy nation," said Jane Stevens, the mother of Nicky Stevens.
"Openly implying that an annual suicide rate of over 400, worse than the road death toll, is acceptable, sends the wrong message," she said.
Nicky's father Dave Macpherson said his family was supportive of "much of the thrust of the rest of the report, with its call for better access to services and treatment, more staffing, and better programmes to tackle some of the underlying causes of mental health issues".
"What we now want is for mental health to no longer be a political football, and for all the parliamentary parties to get their heads together around a mental health improvement programme that all of them will sign up to going into the future."
With potential changes of Government every six or nine years, the country could not afford the stop-start approach to the provision of mental health services of recent years," he said in a statement.
Among the 40 recommendations made in the Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction is the urgent completion and implementation of a national suicide prevention strategy.
"New Zealand's persistently high suicide rates were one of the catalysts for this inquiry. Suicide affects people of all ages and from all walks of life, with thousands of New Zealanders touched by suicide every year," the report said.
Health Minister David Clark said he would not make any comment on the recommendations today and the Government would formally respond in March.
He said he was on record as saying he was uncomfortable with saying any level of suicide was okay.
"I don't think any level of suicide is something we should be accepting at face value," he told reporters.
Clark would not comment on remarks by Green Party spokeswoman on mental health and drug law reform Chloe Swarbrick that he was actively working on a suicide target.
Nicky Stevens was 21 when he was allowed unescorted leave from the Henry Rongomai Bennett Centre.
He was under a compulsory care order when he left for a 15-minute cigarette break and never returned.
His body was found in Waikato River three days later.
Mental Health Commissioner Kevin Allan said it was important that any response to the inquiry led to significant improvements in mental wellbeing and that people with mental health and addiction needs had better access to support and services.
"I welcome the call for more collaborative leadership. It is essential if we want to make lasting progress. We must have the right people at the table from the outset to determine priorities and implement change including Māori and people with lived experience."
Allan was pleased to see a recommendation for a broader mandate for a stand-alone Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission.
"It is critical that any new commission oversees the mental health and addiction system and supports the transformation which needs to occur. To do that it needs to be well resourced and given appropriate powers and independence," he said in a statement.