19 Feb 2013

Online seminar discusses high Maori suicide rates

7:10 pm on 19 February 2013

A regional project leader with the National Maori Suicide Prevention Programme says suicide is twice as likely to affect Maori than any other ethnic group in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Michael Naera, who works in Bay of Plenty, was one of two speakers on an online seminar hosted by Victoria University of Wellington to discuss how to involve whanau and community in preventing Maori from taking their own lives.

He says there is a need to demystify commonly held misconceptions about why the suicide and attempted suicide rates are so high.

Mr Naera says it is not entrenched in tikanga Maori and, although the suicide rate in rangatahi or young people is two-and-a-half times higher than in non-Maori youth, taking one's life is not normal for his people.

He says suicide is complex and key factors for reducing suicide in young Maori in particular are protecting the mana of the individual and their wairua or spirituality, and identifying when people are mentally sick.