In July of 2016 the Minister of Defence Gerry Brownlee released a defence white paper outlining future spending. Part of this spending was a $20 Billion investment over 10 years in the New Zealand Defence Force. How bizarre.
We live in a country where the chances of being attacked are negligible. To quote the same white paper,
“New Zealanders can remain confident that the country does not face a direct military threat in the foreseeable future.”
To give you an idea of how bizarre this is, the current deaths of New Zealanders due to military action over the last 10 years is 10. That includes us in countries as far away as Afghanistan.
Military Budget vs Suicide
The deaths of New Zealanders over the last ten years, due to suicide, is over 5000. That makes the percentage of suicide deaths to military deaths to be 0.002%.
In 2017 the government budgeted an extra $100 million for metal health services. There was no mention of suicide in the budget speech, yet there was $576 million for Defence Force upgrades.
This seems strange to me. There were 35 New Zealand soldiers killed during the Vietnam War. If we extrapolate that to 10 years instead of 8 that would be 44 soldiers killed. If we look at all the military casualties since World War Two there are 149. That is 0.0298% of our suicide rate over the last ten years.
To extrapolate again, you have only a slightly lower chance of being killed in New Zealand by your own hand than you have of dying serving in another country in our armed forces (0.0011% vs 0.0015%).
What is wrong with our governance?
I say governance here because it isn’t a single party issue. Both Labour and National have failed to deal with the problem of suicide over multiple years and multiple governments.
Both have repeatedly failed to deal with suicide in New Zealand.
I know that we will never get suicide down to 0. Well, I certainly don’t see how. It should, however, be our constant aim.
Imagine if we could spend $4,000,000 on each of these people. What a difference that would make. Well, that is the choice our government made when it decided to invest $20 Billion over the next 10 years in the Defence Force instead of investing in New Zealanders.