Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has responded to mounting pressure to set a suicide reduction target, describing a 20 per cent reduction over the next decade as "reasonable".

Coleman's office previously rejected that target because of fears the Government would be held accountable if numbers didn't drop, according to documents obtained by the Herald under the Official Information Act.

On TV3's The Nation this morning Coleman was asked if the target proposed by the mental health sector, which would save about 120 lives a year, was sensible.

It was reasonable and his party would look at the issue of suicide after the election, if re-elected, Coleman said.


"I think we do have to be aspirational about it. I've moved my thinking on a target. I think that sounds like a reasonable target, but what I have said is that after the election, if we're re-elected, we will look at this issue again.

"But that doesn't sound an unreasonable target. We've got to do better on this."

New Zealand's suicide rate has remained stubbornly high for decades, and latest statistics showed 606 people took their own lives in the last year.

The country has the highest teen suicide rate and the second worst youth (25 and under) suicide rate in the world, prompting the Herald to launch five-week series on youth suicide Break the Silence.

Break the Silence aimed to encourage people who need help to ask for it and to let them know there is hope. The Herald also believed it was time for a national conversation about the matter.


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.

If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:

LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234

There are lots of places to get support. For others, click here.