Maori urged to help stop people committing suicide

By Yvonne Tahana

The Maori suicide rate is still more than 80 per cent higher than that of non-Maori. Photo / Thinkstock
The Maori suicide rate is still more than 80 per cent higher than that of non-Maori. Photo / Thinkstock

A public health advocate says Maori communities must do their bit to make it harder for people to kill themselves, including by making sure vulnerable people do not have easy access to firearms, drugs and ropes.

Irene Walker, a Bay of Plenty regional manager for public health organisation Piki te Ora, is leading a discussion at a prevention conference in Auckland today on how to reduce access to a means of suicide.

Ministry of Health figures show hanging, strangulation and suffocation were the most used methods for the 506 people who died in 2009, with 60 per cent choosing to end their life these ways. Ten per cent poisoned themselves, and 10 per cent used firearms and explosives.

There were 83 Maori suicides in 2009, an age-standardised rate of 13.1 per 100,000 in the Maori population, the lowest rate since 1999.

The overall youth rate, including Maori, has declined by 36.8 per cent since the peak rate in 1995.

But the Maori suicide rate is still more than 80 per cent higher than that of non-Maori at 28.7 per 100,000 in the 15-24 age group compared to 15.6 per 100,000.

Ms Walker's organisation has run campaigns to push the reducing-access message.

It urges people to dispose of out-of-date medicine through chemists and and keep firearms in locked cabinets separately from ammunition.

- NZ Herald

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