'Happy to encourage the suicide of the elderly' - National MP hits out at Jacinda Ardern over suicide views

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NZN

National MP Simon O'Connor has hit out at Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, accusing her of having contradictory views on suicide.

Campaigners calling for a mental health inquiry brought 606 shoes to parliament today.
Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Ardern tearfully promised families and friends of suicide victims at a rally outside parliament yesterday that their voices would be heard in a Labour government review of mental health services.

YesWeCare.NZ placed 606 pairs of shoes on parliament's lawn, each representing a New Zealanders who took their own life in the last 12 months.

But Mr O'Connor took to Facebook to criticise Ms Ardern.

"It's strange that Jacinda is so concerned about youth suicide but is happy to encourage the suicide of the elderly, disabled and sick," he wrote.

"Perhaps she just values one group more than others. Just saying #consistency."

Mr O'Connor was chairman of parliament's health select committee which investigated public attitudes toward euthanasia.

It reported back earlier this year without making any recommendations.

Euthanasia campaigner and former Labour MP Maryan Street, whose petition prompted the health committee inquiry, took to Twitter to oppose Mr O'Connor's view.

"This is typical. A desperate and ignorant ploy by fundamentalists worldwide. Conflating these two serious issues does an injustice to both," she wrote.

Labour's general secretary Andrew Kirton simply called the post "charming". Comments on Mr O'Connor's post also accused him of missing the mark.

"Trying to make very serious and important issues into a political hit job is just disgusting," Ben Fraser wrote.

"Suicide is not the same thing as euthanasia. That's why we have two different names for them," Julia Schiller said.

But there was some support - "well put Simon" one person wrote.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact:

Lifeline's 24-hour telephone counselling service on 0800 543 354.

Depression Helpline (8am to 12 midnight) - 0800 111 757

Samaritans - 0800 726 666 (for callers from the Lower North Island, Christchurch and West Coast) or 0800 211 211 / (04) 473 9739 (for callers from all other regions)

Suicide Crisis Helpline (aimed at those in distress, or those who are concerned about the wellbeing of someone else) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up (for 5-18 year olds; 1 pm to 11 pm) - 0800 942 8787

Kidsline (aimed at children up to 14 years of age; 4pm to 6pm weekdays) 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline)

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