A nationwide record in the number of suicides reported annually hasn't been reflected in Hawke's Bay - however, the region has equalled its previous highest suicide total.

Provisional suicide statistics released yesterday by Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall show 29 people died in the Hawke's Bay District Health Board Region in the 2017-2018 year.

It is the second time since the 2007-2008 year that figures have been this high in the region, the last time was in the 2014-2015 year.

Nationally, 668 people died by suicide in the 2017-2018 year - the highest number since the provisional statistics were first recorded for the 2007-2008 year.


It has increased for the fourth year in a row. New Zealand's suicide rate - the number of suicides per 100,000 population - is now over 13 for the first time.

It has been recorded as 13.67, up from 12.64.

Marshall said suicide continues to be a significant health and social problem in New Zealand. "We need to keep talking about how to recognise the signs that someone may want to take their own life. If someone expresses thoughts and feeling about suicide, take them seriously."

Nationally, female suicides increased by 44 compared with last year, while male suicides increased by 18. The ratio of female to male suicides is 1:2.46.

Hawke's Bay District Health Board suicide prevention co-ordinator, Penny Rongotoa said "every suicide is tragic and it has a significant impact on families, friends and communities. It is always sad to see the numbers go up and it would be preferable to see the numbers go down".

She added that suicide is "such a complex phenomenon that requires a very co-ordinated, integrated and partnered approach".

The suicide prevention co-ordinator has been in place since about 2014 and most recently, Hastings District Council endorsed a three-year suicide prevention plan, the third of its kind, which takes a multi-faceted approach.

The strategy has four key goals; empowering and enabling communities, accessible suicide prevention training, strengthening and improving post/prevention processes and addressing the suicide prevention needs of targeted populations.

"I'm really heartened by the fact that the services and providers are rallying together to put their best foot forward when it comes to dealing with suicide and from various aspects too. Because of its pure complexities, it is going to take some time to get those numbers down."

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson said it was important to reach out to people. "We must be ready to offer our awhi and aroha [support and love] and work with them to get them the support they need and deserve."

Robinson said today lots of people would express shock and anger at these statistics.

"We share those feelings. But we must not allow ourselves to lose hope that we will turn these numbers around and prevent suicide in Aotearoa.

"There's no single solution – there are lots of things that will help, and all of us - government, community, businesses, whānau – everyone – need to work on this together."

Where to get help:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111. Or, if you need to talk to someone else:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• 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)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• CASPER Suicide Prevention