New Suicide Prevention Director: 'This effort needs all of us'
Work targeted at reducing New Zealand’s historically high suicide rates takes another step forward with the appointment
of Carla na Nagara to lead the establishment of the Suicide Prevention Office.
The Government announced the establishment of the Suicide Prevention Office in September, tasked with coordinating
action already underway to reduce New Zealand’s historically high rate of suicide. In 2016, 553 people died by suicide
Today’s announcement by Deputy Director-General Mental Health and Addiction, Robyn Shearer confirms Carla na Nagara as
Director of the Suicide Prevention Office. Ms na Nagara has significant experience in dealing with suicide having worked
as a Coroner for the past 12 years.
Ms na Nagara will formally start in this role on 21 October. The role is initially for two years during which the
Suicide Prevention Office will be housed and supported by the Ministry of Health. The intention is that it will become a
stand-alone Office in coming years.
“This is an important appointment in gaining traction in suicide prevention. Carla na Nagara will bring a wealth of
knowledge and experience to the Office. Her appointment means we are continuing to build momentum in this critical area
and focusing on saving lives,” says Ms Shearer.
Ms na Nagara says, “Through my work as a coroner, I’ve seen that suicide is not always the result of a mental health
problem or a simple moment of distress. To be understood it needs to be seen in the wider context of a person’s life.”
“Like so many other New Zealanders, I’ve also felt the effects of suicide on my own community. I know we need to do
Every Life Matters - The Suicide Prevention Strategy 2019–2029 and Action Plan 2019–2024 provides a clear focus for the
range of on the ground initiatives that it will take to reduce the number of New Zealanders taking their own life.
“At the heart of Every Life Matters is achieving a future where there is no suicide in New Zealand. There are no quick
fixes,” says Ms na Nagara.
“It’s going to take all of us working together to make a difference. The wider health and social systems need to be
integrated and working closely with individuals, whânau and communities and better supporting people bereaved by
“We need a strong system that supports wellbeing. That starts in our homes, schools, sports clubs and communities. Every
New Zealander has a role to play in contributing to suicide prevention. The answers are not going to be just in
delivering more services, although that will be part of it.
“Every Life Matters is focused on achieving equity for all lives. In particular we need to focus on achieving equity for
Mâori and other population groups that experience disproportionately higher rates of suicide, including youth, males and
people who use mental health and addition services.”
The establishment of the Suicide Prevention Office is part of a wider plan to improve all aspects of mental health and
wellbeing for people in New Zealand. Lived experience and Mâori advisory functions will also be established to work with
The Ministry of Health is putting into action the Government’s response to He Ara Oranga, the report from the Government
Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction,which calls for a system transformation. We need a mental health and wellbeing
system that places people at the centre, improves equity and expands access and choice.