Youth suicide rates have dropped in the past year after a sharp rise last year, and coroners are now increasingly concerned about suicides by elderly people instead.

Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean said provisional figures showed that the suicide rate for under-20-year-olds had "dropped quite markedly" in the year to the end of June.

The drop reverses an increase from 56 suicides in the 15 to 19 age group in 2010-11 to 80 in 2011-12, up from an average of 55 a year over the previous four years.

Suicides by teenaged Maori, in particular, have fallen back after almost doubling last year, when they jumped from a four-year average of 21 a year to 37.


Judge MacLean cautioned against reading too much into these fluctuations because the graph of suicides was "a mountain range" of jagged peaks and troughs.

But he said there was growing concern internationally about suicides by elderly people. Ministry of Health data show that the suicide rate peaks in the 20-24 age group and tails off gradually to the lowest rates between ages 65 and 80, but jumps again to just above the overall average among those aged 80-plus.

"That links in with the rest home scenario with whether falls are being addressed properly," Judge MacLean said. "We need to look at are there any trends in there, is there anything in the findings we are getting that suggests any cause for concern."

Where to get help

Youth services: (06) 3555 906

Youthline: 0800 376 633

Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm to 6pm weekdays)

Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (noon to midnight)

The Word


Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (24-hour service)

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.