Suicide prevention campaigner Mike King says if Health Minister Jonathan Coleman thinks he's doing a great job on mental health services, he needs to stand down.
Mr King from the Key To Life Trust was speaking on Seven Sharp last night after latest figures showed 579 New Zealanders committed suicide last year.
He said a people's mental health review currently underway has heard hundreds of stories from people telling of their experiences with the mental health system and 70 per cent who had approached mental health services had a bad experience.
Mr King wants to see the 30 per cent who had a good experience replicated and says the Government needs to take a stock take of the mental health services.
"You know, Jonathan Coleman says that everything's fine, he's got it all under control. Well Jonathan, you've lost 579 in your portfolio, 55 of them school children."
"If you think you're doing a great job and there's nothing to see here then, man, I think you need to stand down," he said.
He says the Government is "looking for a blanket solution that will fix everybody" but reasons for suicide differ and the community needs to be engaged.
"Go and talk to the people who aren't funded to work with these people. Go to the schools, the people helping disabled people on a daily basis - soup kitchens, St John, 'cause funded people will give the same answer, 'we're doing a great job'."
Mr King said the focus for suicide prevention is on the 20 per cent of the population who have the problem and not on the 80 per cent of the population who know nothing about mental health, "who can't understand why anyone would want to take their life but whose judgmental attitude is having the greatest affect on the 20 per cent".
He said: "If we can just help New Zealanders to recognise that these people are not drama queens, they are not attention seekers, they are not cowards. They are just New Zealanders who are hurting.
"So instead of saying 'get these people the help', we all need to look in the mirror and say to ourselves 'what can I do to make life easier and better for these vulnerable New Zealanders."
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