New Zealand's suicide rates will rise - Mike King

Mental health advocate Mike King is predicting a rise in our suicide rate.

New Zealand already has the second highest overall suicide rate in the developed world, with more than 600 Kiwis taking their own lives in the last year.

But Mr King says that is an "absolute minimum" estimation.

"We have to understand there are so many suicides that aren't recorded.

"Coroners have to be 100 percent sure. So if there's alcohol in the system, there are drugs in the system, if there's any doubt at all that it may not have been [suicide], they are not recorded," Mr King said on RadioLIVE on Saturday. 

"The reason that those statistics are going to climb over the next few years is because as people have an understanding that this is a real thing, the threshold comes down.

"So please New Zealand, don't be surprised when these numbers come up."

New mental health figures reveal 11.8 percent of 15- 24-year-olds are affected by psychological stress, defined in the Ministry of Health survey as having "high or very high probability of anxiety or depressive disorder".

It's an increase on last year's 8.8 percent figure in the same age bracket, moving from 58,000 to 79,000 people.

Around one in ten young New Zealanders seeking mental health is having to wait more than two months to see a specialist.

New Zealand also has the highest suicide rate in the OECD for 15- to 19-year-olds.

Mr King says experts who blame poverty, housing and colonisation for the suicide rate are sending a dangerous - and incorrect - message.

"Of the thousands of kids that I've spoken to that have been suicidal not one of them has come up to me and said, 'Mike I want to kill myself because of housing'. Not one of them has said 'I want to do it because of poverty'.

"What we are being told are the reasons and what I am hearing on a daily basis are completely different."

"For most young people, their suicidal behaviour is driven by a little thing that everyone owns called the inner critic. That little voice constantly undermines their logical thinking.

"Self-esteem comes from having your thoughts and opinions validated by the significant adults in your life."

Mr King says the solution will be found with communities supporting one another and not with the Government.

Where to find help and support:

  • Free call or text 1737
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline  0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
  • Healthline  0800 611 116
  • Samaritans  0800 726 666 
  • Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
  • Mental Health Foundation