30 Jul 2016

Action wanted over high Māori youth suicide rates

9:10 am on 30 July 2016

A leading psychiatrist says he wonders whether more attention would be paid to suicide by young men if the rate was higher for non-Māori than it is for Māori.

New Zealand's youth suicide rate is one of the highest among OECD countries, and the Māori youth suicide rate is 2.8 times the non-Māori rate.

Mark Lawrence, who chairs the New Zealand branch of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, said, speaking personally, he wondered whether that influenced how much attention the problem was given.

"If the suicide rates for non-Māori were twice the rates they were for Māori, would there be greater intervention if the majority of the population were dying at a greater frequency?"

Mr Lawrence said the high loss of life among young Māori men took away those who would have been the doctors, teachers and leaders of the future.

Suicide rates in New Zealand have remained more or less unchanged since declines in the late 1990s.

Provisional figures from the Chief Coroner indicate 564 people took their own lives in the year 2014/15 - the highest number in the eight years since the figures were released.

Listen to and read a full Insight investigation on this on Sunday morning.

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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