27 Aug 2011

Maori lead latest suicide statistics

12:33 pm on 27 August 2011

The latest suicide statistics released by the chief coroner show that Maori still have the highest rate of suicide by ethnic group.

The rate for Maori is 17.8 per 100,000 population, compared with 13.5 for the category of European and other groups.

Michael Naera, a co-ordinator with Maori suicide prevention programme Kia Piki Te Ora, says it is important kaumatua talk openly about suicide, despite concerns those conversations could encourage copycat behaviour.

Mr Naera says every iwi or hapu also needs to make sure they have strategies in place to address broader issues such as drug and alcohol use and sexual abuse.

"It is great to have wananga and to talk about empowering people through whakapapa, there's nothing wrong with that, but if you take a look in your backyard, drugs and alcohol are quite high there, problem gambling is quite high there."

Mr Naera says iwi strategies need to reflect strong objectives to combat suicide and those other social issues.