Chief Coroner releases NZ suicide statistics

  • 26/08/2011

By 3news.co.nz staff

In a rare move the Chief Coroner has made public national statistics on suicide in New Zealand allowing unprecedented media coverage on the previously taboo subject.

It is the most detailed statistical report on suicide released to the public. Media is often discouraged to report on suicide for fears of copycat attempts by others at risk.

Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean says current suicide prevention techniques are not working and stressed that a new approach is needed.

“I have suggested that there may be room for a gentle opening up of the restrictions on media reporting of suicide, but we need to consider all viewpoints – especially those of families – so we can make informed decisions.”

Mr MacLean says New Zealand’s high suicide toll is a “concerning commentary on our society”.

The findings, collected by the Ministry of Justice database, show suicide in New Zealand has risen from 540 deaths annually in 2007/2008 to 558 in 2010/2011.

Among other findings:

  • Men are three times more likely to commit suicide then women
  • The age groups most at risk are 15-29 year olds and 45-54 year olds
  • Maori have the highest rate of suicide

In a controversial move Mr MacLean revealed that hanging, strangulation and suffocation are the preferred methods of suicide, accounting for more than half of all deaths.

A specific report was also conducted into suicide deaths in relation to the Christchurch quakes. It found a drop in numbers since the September quake. The lower trend is shown to continue into this year.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says the lower numbers after the quakes is positive.

“People pull together and there is a strong sense of community which can support the individual after natural disasters."

But he fears the real impact of the quakes could hit in the months to come.

“The bigger risk period is well after the event when, among other things, despair can take hold.

“This means that we will need to be particularly vigilant that the community of Christchurch continues to be supported, and that people are helped through what is an incredibly challenging and difficult time,” he says.

Mr Dunne agrees new and better ways are needed to prevent suicide in New Zealand.

“The reasons behind any suicide are complex, and we need to approach the whole issue with as much knowledge, research and evidence as we can,” Mr Dunne said.

3 News

source: newshub archive