Fewer youth suicides in Wairarapa

By Vomle Springford

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THE STATS: Number of deaths by suicide per year in Wairarapa. SOURCE/CHIEF CORONER.
THE STATS: Number of deaths by suicide per year in Wairarapa. SOURCE/CHIEF CORONER.

Fewer young people are taking their own lives and middle-aged men now make up the majority of recent suicides in Wairarapa .

Eight people died by suicide for the year ended June, according to provisional figures released by chief coroner Judge Neil MacLean on Wednesday.

This is a slight drop for the region, with two less than the previous 12 month period.

Nationally, the number of suicides, 529, is at its lowest ever since recording began and the youth rate dropped by a quarter while there was a rise in older people aged 60-plus.

The youth rate was reflected in Wairarapa, said Jane Mills, suicide prevention coordinator for Wairarapa District Health Board.

"Our youth suicides have definitely been down which is a good thing."

But older suicides were not up here, she said.

"It's middle aged men."

Ms Mills said in the last 18 months, they'd seen more men in this age group die by suicide than other age groups.

She said while the overall decrease was good, it was important to note the final figures could vary as the coroner was still investigating some deaths.

"It's almost too early to tell if it's an improvement."

Judge MacLean said while the slight drop was encouraging, the overall rate was still "stubbornly high and disappointingly consistent."

"This year's numbers have moved in the right direction but not by much.

"In spite of this, it's important we focus on the positives and there are some we can take from the statistics."

He said the drop in teen suicide was good news.

"I am aware that a lot of effort both nationally and at community grassroots level has gone into responding to the challenges posed by youth suicide.

"I'd like to think the drop is a result of this."

Ms Mills said a lot of work had been put into resilience and anti-bullying programmes in schools like the Bully Free Me Wairarapa initiative.

There is also the Wairarapa Blokes Book and a list of helpful websites at www.wairarapasocialservices.org.nz.

She said as a community, people should encourage conversation with someone they might notice is down or behaving differently.

She said messages of hope needed to be out there. "People do come out the other side."

Where to get help:

• Lifeline - 0800 543 354

• Depression Helpline (8am to midnight) - 0800 111 757

• Healthline - 0800 611 116

• Samaritans - 0800 726 666 (for callers from the Lower North Island, Christchurch and West Coast) or 0800 211 211 / (04) 473 9739 (for callers from all other regions)

• Suicide Crisis Helpline (aimed at those in distress, or those who are concerned about the well-being of someone else) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

• Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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