A nationwide record in the number of suicides reported each year hasn't been reflected in Hawke's Bay where the number continues to hover at less than 30.

But every one is one too many, says Hawke's Bay suicide prevention campaigner and Te Taitimu Trust director Zack Makoare, who's committed himself to battling the plights of young people since his own son died as a young teenager 17 years ago.

Mr Makoare, who this week takes a group to Tauranga for an event marking the start of Suicide Prevention Month, says with the numbers increasing throughout the country, up almost 15 per cent in the last four years since the lowest annual toll since provisional annual statistics were first released in 2008, the country has to ask itself: "What are we doing?"

He says competition for funding dominates the roles of some of those who would achieve more being out in the community, where he says the real answers are.

Advertisement

"That's why we have to start driving it from a community level, and saying one group has all the answers...? Well, they haven't," he says.

The statistics released yesterday show a record 606 suspected suicides in the year to the end of June, 27 more than the previous high of 579 in the previous 12 months. There were 564 in the year to the end of June 2015, and 529 in the year to the end of June 2014.

The latest statistics vary across the country's 20 District Health Board areas, Hawke's Bay, 27 - one-up on the 26 the previous year - being one of only 10 areas regions where there was an increase. The number if HB was down on the decade-high of 29 in 2014-2015 and the 28 the previous year.

There have, however, been at least three in Hawke's Bay since the end of June.

The most significant increases were in Northland, Bay of Plenty and Otago-Southland based Southern.

The provisional statistics - the deaths being still subject of coronial proceedings - have been released just days ahead of the start of Suicide Prevention Month, a series of events globally throughout September.

Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall said New Zealand had much to do to turn around its stubbornly high rate of suicide.

"In the last year we've seen a lot of discussion about suicide and the incredible emotional toll it takes on those who are left behind," she said. "While acknowledging that people are taking their own lives is important, it is only part of the conversation about suicide in the community."

"What is equally important is our discussion around how we can prevent suicides and how everyone - family, friends and colleagues - is able to recognise someone at risk and ensure they get the professional help they need."

The statistics show a continually alarming rate of young people taking their lives with the biggest number being in the 20-24 age group where 79 of the deaths are thought to have been suicide, combined with the 64 aged 25-29 meaning those in their 20s account for 23.6 per cent (almost a quarter) of the total. The statistics record 51 were aged under 20 years.

The number of males, totalling 457, was more than three-times the number of females, totalling 149, and while 422 were classified as European and 130 as Maori, Maori still had the highest rate per head of population of any of the ethnicities.

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).
If it is an emergency and you feel you or someone else is at risk, call 111.