Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Coroner backs publicity on suicides

Ms Johnson has recommended the Ministry of Health provides "strong advice" to the public about what to do if someone said they had engaged in suicidal behaviour. Photo / Thinkstock
Ms Johnson has recommended the Ministry of Health provides "strong advice" to the public about what to do if someone said they had engaged in suicidal behaviour. Photo / Thinkstock

A national media campaign to throw light on how to recognise and deal with a suicidal person has been recommended by a coroner after a young man killed himself last year.

It was one of two reports released yesterday into coroners' findings on people who had taken their own lives.

The reports follow Chief Coroner Neil Maclean's recommendation last month that suicide be "brought out of the shadows".

"I am concerned that we seem to be making no impact - there has been no visible downward trend at all. Our job is to tell the public the facts - I am no more qualified to suggest an answer or a solution than anyone."

Coroner Sue Johnson released a report into the death of Christchurch man Christopher John Henry McCook-Weir, 23, who committed suicide in December.

Ms Johnson has recommended the Ministry of Health provides "strong advice" to the public about what to do if a person said they were intending to commit suicide, or said they had engaged in suicidal behaviour.

She said that included starting a campaign showing people ways to respond to someone who said they were thinking of committing suicide.

Coroner Ian Smith also released a report into the death of a 68-year-old Upper Hutt man.

Keith Graham Barnard committed suicide in July 2010. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder 20 years earlier.

His wife said in the week before his death he was grey and morose.

He contacted the psychiatric outpatient team, desperate for help. He told them he was in strife and had "lost my way". However, he was not immediately able to see anybody.


Key statistics

* The number of suicides recorded by the Coronial Services Unit in the year to June 30 was 547, down 11 on the previous 12 months.
* 74 per cent of all suicides in New Zealand were male.
* Increase in suicides in the 15-19 age group - from 56 to 80.
* 28 per cent of people who killed themselves were unemployed.
Source: Coronial Services Unit

Where to get help

If it's an emergency and you feel you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
Youthline: 0800 376 633.
Lifeline: 0800 543 354.
Depression: Helpline 0800 111 757.
What's Up: 0800 942 8787 (noon-midnight).

- APNZ

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