New numbers revealed last week show suicide is at the highest level in New Zealand since records began 12 years ago. In the year to June 30, 685 people died by suicide - 17 more than in the previous year and just under twice the road toll.

The suicide rate stands at 13.93 per 100,000 people, compared to 13.67 in 2017/18, a 1.9 per cent increase.

Since 2007, 6889 New Zealanders have taken their own lives - 381 of those deaths happened in the Bay of Plenty.

New Zealand has one of the worst youth suicide rates in the OECD, and for males under 25, we have the highest rate. Māori are disproportionately represented. Suicide is the leading cause of death for people under age 25.

Each lost life inflicts collateral damage on loved ones - grieving partners, family members and friends who struggle to understand why someone would take their own life and how they could have prevented it.

Dawn Picken shares stories from locals affected by suicide and people trying to help them.

Advisory: This article discusses suicide and may be upsetting to some people.

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