Government stigmatises families of suicide victims

Published: Thu 15 Oct 2009 03:51 PM
Hon Jim Anderson
Member of Parliament for Wigram
Progressive Leader
15 October 2009Media Statement
Government stigmatises families of suicide victims
Minister of ACC, Nick Smith says it was ‘a mistake and wrong’ for the last Labour-led government to support the families of suicide victims through ACC.
“Nick Smith should have the courage to say this directly to the families of suicide victims. It is yet another cowardly and insensitive comment from a Minister who is determined to further stigmatise these families,” says MP for Wigram and Progressive Party leader.
Nick Smith apologised in parliament today for his comments on TVNZ News last night where he said that the terminally ill might as well ‘throw themselves under a train’ to get the same treatment for their own families as is available for the bereaved families of suicide victims.
“If the children or loved ones of a suicide victim don’t get our support through ACC, then where do they get it from? Is the Minister saying that they don’t deserve our support? Or is he saying that they should go on a sickness benefit?”
“When he said yesterday that the government’s ‘objective is to secure the long-term future of ACC as an efficient and fair 24/7, no-fault insurance scheme for all New Zealanders’, he clearly did not mean the families of suicide victims. He is effectively victimising these most vulnerable of New Zealanders.”
As the Minister in charge of suicide prevention programs in the last Labour/Progressive government, Jim Anderton introduced a program of support for families after a suicide (Postvention). This provided urgent counselling where needed to families, and victim support for those affected.
Nick Smith claims that it is necessary to cut support to the families of suicide victims because ACC has a huge deficit. He said if someone with a family committed suicide, that family could have been given almost $1 million in compensation over time.
“Yet the cost for ACC to give support to a family of three children on an average wage is less than $210,000 over five years. With approximately 350 claims per year, that is about $7 millions per year to all families of suicide victims who make an ACC claim.”
“That is a small cost to pay out of what Nick Smith claims is a $2 billion shortfall annually, to help some of the most vulnerable families in our community.”

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