18 Oct 2016

Suicide stats remain 'unacceptably high'

1:01 pm on 18 October 2016

The rate of people taking their own lives is remaining consistent, and unacceptably high, the chief coroner says.

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Judge Deborah Marshall has just released the latest annual statistics, which show 579 people died by suicide in the June 2015 - June 2016 year.

It was the highest number of suicides since figures were first published in 2007-08.

But the rate by head of population is just over 12 per 100,000 people, which is slightly lower than the peak in 2010-11 of nearly 13 per 100,000.

Those at greatest risk were aged between 25 and 29, and Māori are still more likely to kill themselves than other ethnicities.

129 Māori took their own lives - a rate of 22 deaths per 100,000 people, nearly twice the rate of other groups.

Suicide researcher Nicole Coupe said Māori suicide rates had been high for some time and the country needed to give it the same attention as the road toll.

There was work being done, but it was not enough, she said.

"You're only talking about a couple of million dollars a year or so going directly into Māori suicide."

The high Māori suicide rate was also a reflection of the relative youth of the Māori population, Dr Coupe said.

The Canterbury region recorded its highest suicide total since records began, with 78 deaths.

Mental health workers in the region have previously spoken about the rise of mental illness in the wake of the Canterbury earthquakes.

Data released to RNZ earlier this year showed an almost 300 percent increase in crisis mental health referrals over five years in the Auckland district health board area.

Other DHBs experienced massive rises as well - West Coast referrals jumped 226 percent, Bay of Plenty 210 percent and Canterbury 84 percent.

Judge Deborah 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 get professional support.

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

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 (24/7)

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

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

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