The Whanganui Region's high suicide rate - especially in rural places - is worrying, Whanganui District Health Board mental health service associate nursing director Jeff Hammond says.

Suicide expert Dr Annette Beautrais gave a workshop about prevention in Marton last month, and will return to the region later this year.

Across New Zealand there are 11 deaths by suicide a week. The most at-risk are Maori people aged 15 to 24, men aged 25 to 64 and people with mental health problems and addictions.

Suicide has been a taboo subject, Mr Hammond said, but society is changing and people are getting more open about their feelings.

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Campaigns by comedian Mike King and former All Black Sir John Kirwan are helping the change.

There's still a long way to go, but help is out there. Mr Hammond urged people to talk to others who may be at risk of suicide.

At-risk people can also talk to a range of helping organisations:

Lifeline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 354

Depression Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 111 757

Healthline (open 24/7) - 0800 611 116

Samaritans (open 24/7) - 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Youthline (open 24/7) - 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email talk@youthline.co.nz

0800 WHATSUP children's helpline - phone 0800 9428 787 between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 10pm on weekends. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day at www.whatsup.co.nz.

Kidsline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 754. This service is for children aged 5 to 18. Those who ring between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays will speak to a Kidsline buddy. These are specially trained teenage telephone counsellors.

Your local Rural Support Trust - 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)

Alcohol Drug Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691 for free.

For further information, contact the Mental Health Foundation's free Resource and Information Service (09 623 4812).