New Zealand's suicide rate has risen for the first time in four years, according to provisional data from the Chief Coroner.

The data released by Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall shows that 564 people took their own lives in the year to June, up from 529 last year.

The suicide rate increased from 11.73 for every 100,000 people in the year to June last year to 12.27 this year, breaking a steady decline from a recent peak of 12.65 in 2010-11.

In the longer term, Ministry of Health data show that the age-standardised suicide rate fluctuated at around 10 for every 100,000 people for about 35 years up to 1985, then jumped to between 13 and 15 during the economic reforms and associated high unemployment in the 1990s.

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The rate dropped back to around 12 in the year 2000 and has fluctuated at around that level ever since.

The latest figures show a sharp rise in the male suicide rate to just under 19 for every 100,000 males, the highest rate for four years, but a drop in the female rate to 5.8 for every 100,000 females, the lowest since former Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean began publishing the provisional data in 2008.

For the first time in recent years, the highest suicide rate was in the 40 to 44 age group, where almost 19 people took their own lives for every 100,000 people. The male suicide rate peaked at a fraction under 30 for every 100,000 men in this age group, while the female rate was just under 9.

However suicide rates were also above average for all age groups between ages 15 and 64. They were below average only for children aged under 15 and older people aged 65-plus.

The Maori suicide rate of almost 22 for every 100,000 was much higher than any other ethnic group. Other rates were 14 for every 100,000 people for Europeans and others, 9 for Pacific people and just 3 for Asians.

Auckland's high Asian and Pacific populations may explain the fact that only 28 per cent of all suicides were in the Auckland region, compared with the region's 34 per cent share of the national population.

Most people who died by suicide died by hanging, strangulation and suffocation (62 per cent), followed by overdoses and poisoning (12 per cent).

Mental Health Foundation director of programme design Moira Clunie said research showed that most people who attempted suicide didn't want to die.

"They just want their pain to end or can't see another way out of their situation," she said.
She said family members and friends should not ignore signs of suicidal thoughts.

"If you're worried about someone, asking them about suicide will not increase their risk, but ignoring their distress can," she said.

"For a person who is struggling, having a chance to talk to someone who will listen without judgment can be a great relief. If someone tells you they are thinking about suicide, keep them talking. Encourage them to get help and talk about what they are going through."

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
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
The Word
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.