Surge in youth suicides

By BRENDAN MANNING


Thirty-five people took their own lives in the Hastings coronial region in the last year, new suicide stats reveal.

The figures were released by Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean yesterday as part of the nation's provisional annual suicide statistics.

"I continue to believe we need to gently bring the issue of suicide from out of the shadows," he said.

The Hastings figures are down two on last year's tally.

Nationally, 547 people took their own lives in the 12 months to June 30 - down 11 on the previous year. Youth suicide has surged and Maori are over-represented in the grim statistics.

Males make up 74 per cent of all self-inflicted deaths.

Judge MacLean has called for a national discussion on how to curb the toll.

"The annual number of suicides has remained relatively constant, but our latest figures show some concerning trends," Judge MacLean said.

"Significant is the jump in teenage suicide numbers, and the continued rise of Maori suicides, in particular young Maori."

This is the third year Judge MacLean has publicly released the annual suicide figures. More people take their own lives each year than die on the nation's roads.

"Coroners have a responsibility to encourage the informed public discussion about how best to reduce the rate of suicide," Judge MacLean said. "To have that discussion we need up-to-date and complete information."

The Government is working on a four-year suicide prevention action plan due to be released early next year.

A Ministry of Health report released last month, Suicide Facts, found rural communities were at higher risk of suicide than people in urban areas.

The highest rates of rural suicide are seen in adults aged 25 to 44 years. APNZ


KEY FACTS


Hanging, strangulation and suffocation are the most common methods of suicide.

The youngest suicide since coronial service records began in 2007 occurred last year - a boy aged between 5 and 9.

During the past year, the number of Maori suicides has increased for most age groups, in particular the 15 to 19-year-old group.

Suicides in the Christchurch region rose by 14 to 81 in the past year. The previous year's lower figure reflected the phenomenon of a drop in suicide rates after large scale crisis events and natural disasters.

The rate of suicides in the 50 to 74-year-old group has dropped.

Suicide rates for unemployed people remain high compared to employed people.

Students and retired people continue to have high suicide rates.

 

- Hawkes Bay Today

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