Seventeen people in the Lakes District Health Board area took their own lives in the last year - with New Zealand as a whole recording the most suicides since records have been kept.
The Chief Coroner's provisional suicide statistics for 2016/17, released yesterday, showed 606 people died by suicide in New Zealand - up from 579 the year before, which was the previous highest number.
The 17 recorded in the Lakes area - which includes Rotorua and Taupo - was down from the 21 people who died by suicide in 2015/16, but an increase from the 10 and 15 in the previous two years.
Seventeen was the average annual number of deaths by suicide in the Lakes area over the last 10 years. A total of 172 people in the Lakes area have died by suicide since 2007/08, when records began.
The rate of suicides in Lakes last year was 16.16 per 100,000 population - 28 per cent higher than the national rate of 12.64.
The figures showed 20-24-year-olds, Maori and men had the highest rate of suicide in the country.
Michael Naera, project leader for the Maori suicide prevention programme Te Runanga Ngati o Pikiao Trust, said for Maori, seeking help was stigmatised - an attitude that must change for the figures to drop.
"Many Maori men struggle to talk about their feelings and to access services out of feeling shamed of being weak," Mr Naera said.
"They feel like they're leaving a piece of themselves there; they feel like they have to remain staunch and strong, yet inside they're crumbling. We need to change that attitude and that stigma."
He said the trust was working with the Iwi Chairs Forum on developing a national Maori suicide prevention strategy.
"Although we're promoting good health on suicide prevention, we're [being hurt] by... the high rates of homelessness, social issues, problem gambling, synthetic drugs, and family violence throughout the Lakes area.
"Once we bring those issues down, then we'll see a drop in the suicide rate."
The Government announced earlier this year an extra $224 million would be spent over the next four years in mental health services.
Chief Coroner Judge Marshall said New Zealand had much to do to turn around its stubbornly high rate of suicide.
"In the last year, we've seen a lot of discussion about suicide and the incredible emotional toll it takes on those who are left behind. While acknowledging that people are taking their own lives is important, it is only part of the conversation about suicide in the community.
"What is equally important is our discussion around how we can prevent suicides and how everyone - family, friends and colleagues - is able to recognise someone at risk and ensure they get the professional help they need."
Mental Health Foundation (MHF) chief executive Shaun Robinson said the latest suicide figures are shocking and a sobering reflection on the failure of New Zealand to come together to prevent suicide in a co-ordinated way.
"Losing someone to suicide can be especially hard to cope with. We know that days like today, when everyone is talking about suicide, can be extremely difficult. Take care and keep in touch with your support people. You don't have to go through this alone," Robinson said.
Many people who die by suicide believe that they are a burden to their loved ones and the world would be better without them, he said.
"If that's true for you please talk to someone today. A friend, a family member, a helpline.
You deserve help and support to get through this."
Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (Mon-Fri 1pm to 10pm. Sat-Sun 3pm-10pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Samaritans 0800 726 666
• If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.