A 2012 rise in suspected suicides in Northland has the country's chief coroner urging people to seek help if they, a family member or loved one needs it.
Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean has gone public with his concerns after receiving details of 32 suspected suicides in Northland in 2012, almost double the 17 recorded in 2011 and well ahead of the high of 26 in 2010.
Judge MacLean said of the 32 suspected cases this year, 12 were in the 10 to 19 age group. The region normally averaged about three suspected suicides in that age group annually.
As well, 15 of the suspected suicides involved people who identified themselves as Maori, compared to nine in the 2010 statistics.
He said the number of those aged from 10 to 19 in the 2012 figures was a real focus for the community and he urged parents, schools, tertiary institutions or other groups that had concerns to seek help from the resources in the region.
In 2000, Northland's road toll reached a record high of 46, but had been coming steadily down to a record low of just seven in 2011.
Judge MacLean said while the road toll in Northland and nationally had fallen, suicide rates in the region were going up. He said Maori leaders needed to be aware of how big the problem was. Research showed that a sense of alienation and disassociation could contribute to the risk of suicide, issues that were prevalent among Northland Maori. Judge MacLean said steps were being taken to help, with the Northland District Health Board recently employing a suicide prevention co-ordinator. As well, a pilot programme trialled in Auckland had just been extended to Northland, whereby any suspected suicide cases were passed straight to the coroner, then on to the suicide-prevention officer so that appropriate support, information and help could rapidly be given to the affected family, institution or community.
"Those are very positive things. Northland Coroner Brandt Shortland has said that information is now getting very quickly to the NDHB suicide prevention co-ordinator so that help and information can then be offered to the family, school, institution or community," he said.
A collaboration has also been set up between NDHB, Child Youth and Family, Ngati Wai, Ngati Hine and Group Special Education Service. It followed the suspected suicides by two 14-year-olds in May and June and a warning from a Northland high school to parents to pay special heed to teenagers' behaviour.
Where to go for help
If you, or someone you know is feeling down, depressed or is contemplating suicide, here's where to go to for help:
Northland District Health Board mental health services: Whangarei: 430 4101, general adult services extension 3501; Maori health ext 3537; elderly care ext 8408 and child and youth ext 8320. Kaitaia: (09) 408 8658, ext 4720. Hokianga, Kaikohe and Kawakawa: 0800 222 449, ext 5871. Dargaville: (09) 439 7149, ext 6701. After-hours mental health line: 0800 223 371.
Suicide Prevention Information NZ (SPINZ): www.spinz.org.nz
The Raid Movement, Northland teenagers tackling youth suicide: http://www.theraidmovement.co.nz/ and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Raid-Movement
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 or www.depression.org.nz
Youthline: 0800 376 633.
0800 NO BULLY: 0800 662 855.
Relationship Services: (09) 437 0712.
Budgeting Services: (09) 433 8313.
Lifeline: (09) 437 5055.
LOWDOWN TXT: 5626.
Women's Refuge: (09) 437 2127.
Supporting Families: (09) 430 3844.
Consumer Network: (09) 438 2423.