Northland's suicides have risen 33 per cent to 28 deaths after what experts had hoped was a decrease in numbers.
Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall yesterday released the annual provisional suicide statistics from June 2014 to June 2015 confirming 28 suicides in Northland compared to 21 in the last financial year.
Northland suicide statistics had been steadily rising with 16 in 2009/10 and 29 in 2011/12 until the numbers dropped to 21 in 2013/14.
Tania Papalii, resilience programme lead, Mental Health and Addiction Services for Northland DHB, said Northland had seen an increase in middle-aged males committing suicide in 2015.
Nationally the Maori suicide total of 130 deaths was the highest since provisional statistics were first recorded. The number of male suicides had also risen from 385 last year to 428 this year.
Lily George is co-managing a Ngatiwai focused project aimed at targeting Maori youth suicide in Northland through arts and culture. It was launched following a cluster of Northland suicides in 2012. Dr George said she wasn't sure why the rise occurred but was sad to see the decrease had not continued.
"This is a really challenging issue and for me suicide is a symptom of wider issues like domestic violence, sexual violence and poverty," she said.
Nationally the age cohort with the highest number of suicides was the 20 to 24-year-old group with 61 deaths, followed by the 40 to 44-year-old group with 58 deaths.
Dr George said there were two projects run in Northland by Ngatiwai and Massey University. The first, He Ara Toiora, is an arts and culture based project aimed at using drama to address youth suicide. The second, Kokiritia te Ora, will begin later this year and is based on allowing youth to conduct their own suicide research. She said more community projects needed to be funded.
"[It's about ] reconnecting them to their whanau and their marae, their people and culture and using drama as a means to talk about suicide.
"There are these pockets of communities doing things to address suicide with very little funding," she said.
Roger Ludbrook, Federated Farmers Northland president, said he would not be surprised if a number of farmers were included in Northland's suicide statistics. He said he believed there was an average of about 25 farmer deaths per year nationally compared with about four work-related quad bike accidents per year.
Mr Ludbrook said there needed to be more resources to address farmer suicides.
"My biggest issue is there a pool of funding and it should be covering more resources in this direction.
"If you look at the classes of death, suicide is far more damaging than farmer accidents," he said.
Mr Ludbrook said he could not say why there were so many farmer suicides and that was something that needed to be figured out.
"I know as a farmer we fall under a pump. My parents encouraged me to be a farmer and I'm not so sure I'd encourage my kids to do the same."
Where to go for 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 or 04 473 9739 (for callers from all other regions)
* Suicide Crisis Helpline (aimed at those in distress, or those who are concerned about the wellbeing of someone else) - 0508 828 865 (0508 Tautoko)
* Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email email@example.com
* What's Up (for 5 to 18-year-olds; 1pm to 11pm) - 0800 942 8787
* Kidsline (aimed at children up to 14 years of age; 4pm to 6pm weekdays) - 0800 54 37 54 (0800 Kidsline)
* Mental Health Foundation: www.mentalhealth.org.nz/suicideprevention
* www.depression.org.nz - includes The Journal online help service
* www.thelowdown.co.nz - visit the website, email firstname.lastname@example.org or free text 5626 (emails and text messages will be responded to between 12 noon and 12 midnight).
* OUTLine NZ - 0800 688 5463 (OUTLINE) (provides confidential telephone support for sexuality or gender identity issues)