16 Oct 2009

Suicide prevention group takes issue with minister

6:09 am on 16 October 2009

A suicide prevention group hopes families of people who have committed suicide will be able to share their experience with the ACC minister.

The minister, Nick Smith, said on Wednesday that the ACC entitlements for the families of people who commit suicide were unfair because suicide, although tragic, was not an accident.

Announcing that such families would no longer be covered by ACC, he said it was unfair to compensate the family of someone who had taken their own life but not the family of someone who, for instance, had lost their life to cancer.

He also said that the entitlement system was so attractive that if he himself was given 30 days to live he would throw himself under a train on the 29th day, as his family would be generously assisted by ACC.

Dr Smith has since apologised, saying that that statement was unfortunate.

The director of Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand, Merryn Statham, says loss through suicide is not the same as loss through cancer and they cannot be compared.