Suicide rate for Asian people living in New Zealand a 'concern'

Warning: This article discusses suicide. 

As New Zealand's Asian population rises, there are calls to pay more attention to caring for their mental health.

A new report by the Suicide Mortality Review Committee was released on Wednesday, and indicates the suicide rate of Asian people appears to be rising in this country.

"Suicide rates for Asian people have fluctuated but appear to be increasing," says Professor Rob Kydd, chair of the Suicide Mortality Review Committee. "With the projected growth in the Asian population, we are concerned the rate may rise."

The report reveals the rate of Asian suicide rose from 5.93 per 100,000 in 2007/08 to a high of 8.69 in 2017/18. In 2018/2019 it was 7.63.

Prof Kydd says although death by suicide in the country's Asian population is relatively low, many of the cases are preventable and could be avoided if there was more help available. 

"Mental distress and suicide affecting Asian people in this country has been a relatively hidden issue," he says. "Too many Asian people, mental health issues and suicide are stigmatising and shaming, creating a barrier to seeking help."

According to the report, racism is a contributing factor to suicide.

"Tackling racism in all forms, along with social disadvantage, isolation and exclusion, will have a large impact on suicide rates," Prof Kydd says.

He says the lack of suicide prevention strategies for Asian people living in New Zealand is a "concern".

The report makes various recommendations to combat the trend, including increasing the "cultural competency of health and social services", providing more resources for Asian community agencies to de-stigmatise mental health issues, developing the Asian health workforce and developing "talking therapies that are unique and appropriate for Asian people's communication styles".

Asian people are the third-largest ethnic group in New Zealand, after European and Māori. By 2038, the group is predicted to overtake Māori and Pacific populations.

Where to find help and support:



Contact Newshub with your story tips: