The Bay of Plenty has recorded its highest number of suicides in five years, highlighting concerns for the well-being of local teens and older men.
Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall released the annual provisional suicide figures yesterday, showing 579 people died by their own hand in 2015/16. This included 35 people in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board catchment area, which includes Tauranga, Katikati, Te Puke, Whakatane, Kawerau and Opotiki.
Last year, the Bay recorded 32 suicides and 27 the year before. In 2010/2011, there were 36.
Chris Sio, a leader of the Bay of Plenty chapter of ''good gang'' Kiwi Daddys said the increase in suicide was alarming.
''We are finding that out from within the group - from people affected, family members, etc. We are very, very aware of it,'' Mr Sio said.
''The problem lies not with the cause of depression - it can come from anywhere, things get to people - it's how we deal with it. Often men either bottle it up or try to escape it. They fear ridicule.
''The 'she'll be right' thing is the absolute worst thing you can do.''
Mr Sio said the group, which began as a Facebook collective nine months ago to support other dads, often found itself acting as a link for struggling men with professional services they wouldn't usually feel comfortable approaching.
Tauranga registered psychologist and mental health adviser Janet Peters said it was an especially difficult time for young people.
''You've got bullying, cyber bullying, families that are fragmented and I think for teenagers, it's a really challenging time to grow up in 2016.
''What doesn't help is the whole P issue here,'' Ms Peters said.
Nationally, teens aged between 15 and 19 accounted for the highest number of suicides, 212, in any age group. The number of suicides committed by older men was also of concern, she said.
Men often either bottle it up or try to escape it. They fear ridicule. The 'she'll be right' thing is the absolute worst thing you can do.
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The figures reveal men aged 40-44 were committing suicide more than women in the same age group in recent years, and notably more than men of most other ages.
''I really think that until seeking help for a mental issue is as usual as going to the hairdresser, or going to get your hair cut if you're a guy, we are struggling. It's got to be seen as like having your broken toe fixed.''
Nationally, the deaths are the highest since provisional statistics were first recorded for the 2007/08 year and follows last year's total of 564, which was then the highest total.
Since 2007/08, the Bay of Plenty recorded a total of 274 suicide deaths, compared with Christchurch's 599 - the nation's highest.
Judge Marshall said there needed to be more discussion about suicide prevention and how family, friends and colleagues could identify someone at risk and help them get professional support.
"Everyone should recognise the importance of taking suicidal thoughts seriously and knowing where to get help".
Where to get help
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Samaritans 0800 726 666
• If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.