The number of suicides in New Zealand has increased again in the last June year, to a new high of 579 in the coroners' provisional statistics.

This is the most suicides since 2010/11, when there were 558 in the provisional statistics.

Earthquake-stricken Canterbury had the highest rate by district health board with 78, followed by the Waikato with 55.

There was also a rise in women committing suicide, with an increase of 34 on last year, as male suicides reduced by 19.


The 25-29-year-old age group recorded highest number (66).

When looking at ethnicity, Māori suicides were down by one, to 129.

And by employment status, people who were employed had the highest number at 252.

The latest data, published today by the Chief Coroner, Judge Deborah Marshall, contains the provisional tallies from 2007/08 to 2015/16.

The coroners' statistics are published more quickly than the Ministry of Health's and can vary from them because they can contain some cases of suspected suicide which on inquiry may be found to be self-inflicted deaths but without the intention to commit suicide.

Judge Marshall interpreted the suicide death rate as having remained consistent and said it showed New Zealand still had a long way to go in turning around the unacceptably high toll of suicide.

The suicide death rate per 100,000 people has also increased, to 12.33, but this is lower than a peak of 12.65 in 2010/11.

Judge Marshall said there needed to be more discussion about suicide prevention and how family, friends and colleagues could identify someone at risk and help them to get professional support.

"Everyone should recognise the importance of taking suicidal thoughts seriously and knowing where to get help."

The Green Party said the high rate of suicides should prompt the Government urgently to establish a national inquiry into mental health services.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman maintains such an inquiry is not needed.

Coleman said the suicide rate, although consistent in recent years, remained too high. He noted DHBs had developed suicide prevention plans last year as part of a national suicide prevention action plan supported by $25 million over four years from the Government.

The Mental Health Foundation said it is deeply saddened by the provisional suicide statistics.

"We send our deepest condolences to the families, whānau, colleagues and friends who have lost someone they loved to suicide," said chief executive Shaun Robinson.

"It's not uncommon for people who feel suicidal to believe their loved ones would be happier without them, that they are a burden to their families. Today it's important to acknowledge that this is profoundly untrue."

Suicide is preventable, he said.

"We know that some people have lost hope that things can get better - too many of us have come to accept the way things are for our most vulnerable people and to believe that things cannot change."

Factors that contribute to people feeling suicidal include experiencing depression or other mental health problems, poverty, family violence, abusing substances such as drugs or alcohol and not being able to access support to cope with distress.

"To prevent suicide in New Zealand, we must take a hard look at these factors and work to address them."

Having suicidal thoughts or feelings is not uncommon. Many people will think of suicide at some time in their lives, and the vast majority will recover.

"In most cases friends, whānau, workmates and neighbours will provide support along with professional services, and people will recover and live well.

District tallies
By health district, Auckland, with 50 deaths had the third highest number of suicides in 2015/16 - after Canterbury and Waikato - followed by Waitemata (49), Counties Manukau (48) and the Southern (Otago-Southland) district on 43.

In the preceding three years, the highest and second-highest tallies oscillated between Waitemata and Canterbury, which on 2013 Census data had the largest populations, of 525,000 and 482,000 respectively. Waikato had 359,000.

The statistics
• 579 people died by suicide in the 2015/16 year.
• 564 in 2014/15
• Female suicides increased by 34
• Male suicides reduced by 19
• 25-29-year-old age group recorded highest number (66)
• Figures include 8 people aged between 10-14 and 16 aged 75-79
• Māori suicides down by one, to129
• Canterbury had highest number, 78
• Waikato was second with 55
• People who were employed had highest number at 252

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 (Palmerston North and Levin)
• 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)
• Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.