Report details size of New Zealand's suicide problem

By Martin Johnston

The female suicide rate was more than twice the male rate. Among females, the highest rate was for those aged 15 to 19. Photo / 123RF
The female suicide rate was more than twice the male rate. Among females, the highest rate was for those aged 15 to 19. Photo / 123RF

There were 508 suicides In 2013 the Ministry of Health has confirmed today, publishing its latest data on the issue.

The age-standardised suicide rate was 11 deaths per 100,000 population, down from the peak rate of 15.1, which was in 1998.

In 2013, the highest rates of suicide were for males, Maori - especially Maori youth - people aged 15 to 24, and those living in the most-deprived areas.

The total number of suicides reported for 2013 in the ministry's annual report on suicide and hospital admissions for intentional self-harm, out today, is unchanged from last November when the ministry released a summary of the 2013 data.

The ministry found that the health districts of Lakes, Bay of Plenty, MidCentral and South Canterbury had significantly higher suicide rates than the national rate when the data for 2009 to 2013 was aggregated.

The ministry's tally of suicides is lower than the number counted by the coroners, whose data is more recent but is based on provisional suicide statistics and contains cases in which intent is yet to be established and may later be found not to be suicide.

The ministry publishes the number of suicides that have been confirmed by a coroner and those provisionally coded as suicide where there is enough information to suggest a coroner will find the cause of death to be suicide.

The coroners' provisional statistics reported 541 suicides for 2012/13; and 529 for 2013/14. Their latest tally, for 2015/16, is 579.

On hospital admissions for intentional self-harm, the ministry found there were 7267 cases in 2013 - a rate of 176.7 per 100,000 population.

The rate rose by 4.6 per cent from 2004 to 2013.

The female rate was more than twice the male rate. Among females, the highest rate was for those aged 15 to 19.

Waka Hourua, a national Māori and Pasifika suicide prevention programme, said the figures published today show the need for programmes aimed at Māori and Pasifika communities and young people.

"They indicate there is a need for targeted suicide prevention efforts to be continued and expanded.

"Waka Hourua is addressing the needs of Māori and Pasifika people by supporting solutions to the problem in the hands of the communities who are impacted by suicide. It is still in its infancy by international standards, which say that national suicide prevention strategies need to be measured over one to two decades to show the long term impact for a population.

"But the programme is showing some measurable results ... Families are telling us their initiatives are having an impact and are saving lives."

Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906 (Palmerston North and Levin)
• 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)
• Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

- NZ Herald

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