New strategic plan launched to strengthen suicide prevention action in Canterbury

Te Oranga Tonutanga o Waitaha, Living Well Waitaha, the Canterbury Suicide Prevention Strategic Action Plan 2022-2025, was officially launched at Tūranga in early July. Living Well Waitaha aims to reduce deaths by suicide, suicide attempts and associated impacts in Canterbury. It reflects the voices, experiences and needs of the people of Waitaha.

Living Well Waitaha is the result of a cross-agency collaboration led by the Canterbury Suicide Prevention Governance Committee and includes mana whenua, cultural leaders, Pegasus Health (Charitable) Ltd, Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury, key government stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Development, social services groups, Christchurch City Council and many other community groups and organisations.

“Suicide is the darkness that swallows our loved ones. Hope is our greatest ally in the fight against this darkness. The Living Well Action Plan and website are essential tools for strengthening hope-based action,” says keynote speaker, Dr Chris Bowden.

“There is a strong emphasis in this plan on empowerment, respect, safety, connection, aroha and offering a compassionate and trauma-informed response to suicide,” Chris says.

In 2020, 74 people in Canterbury died by suicide. Across Aotearoa, 591 people died by suicide that year. Māori, and particularly Māori males, are over-represented in New Zealand’s suicide rates. The most recent data for Māori shows that 21.0 Māori died by suicide in 2019 per 100,000 as compared to 10.9 per 100,000 for non-Māori.

Kaitohutohu Haumanu (Clinical Advisor Hauora Māori) at Hatu Hone St John and Chair of Hakatere Marae in Ashburton, Aroha Brett, spoke about the importance of autonomy for Māori in developing suicide prevention strategies.“One of the biggest things within the Strategy is mana motuhake – giving Māori the choice to make the decisions that are right for them and asking whānau what we can do for them,” she says.

Pegasus Health’s Suicide Prevention and Postvention team has played a key role in creating this action plan providing knowledge and resources to ensure the plan accurately reflects and supports the specific wellbeing needs of people in Canterbury.

“I’m proud of the collaboration between our Suicide Prevention and Postvention Team and the numerous other inter-agency groups and services including the Canterbury Suicide Prevention Governance Committee. This Action Plan honours the mahi we and many others have been doing in Canterbury to reduce deaths by suicide. It will continue to guide our collective work as we explore creative and innovative ways to implement prevention initiatives that are responsive to the needs of the community and are culturally safe,” says Pegasus Health Service Manager for Primary Mental Health, Karl Belcher.

Living Well Waitaha, the Canterbury Suicide Prevention Strategic Action Plan is available at


Cover image:

L-R: Monique Gale, Edith Yi, Elle Cradwick, Tim Murphy, Donna
Ellen, Dave Jeffrey, Craig Morris, Rawiri Hazel, Wikitoria Kurene


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