More suicide prevention work needed in communities, mental health groups warn

For the third year in a row, the rate of suspected suicides has decreased. 

In the 12 months to June last year, 615 people are thought to have died by suicide. This year that's dropped to 538.

But the country's suicide prevention office says while the trend downwards is encouraging, more prevention work is needed in our communities.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson values his daily rituals more than most.

"The reason I now live well, with happiness and with well-being, is because I practice all those little daily habits of wellness and well-being," Robinson said.

Doing those little daily habits saved his life.

"I have been one of those people who was highly suicidal. It amazes me sometimes that I got through that but I did and again it was those little things."

He said it's good wellness practices encouraged during COVID lockdowns that are behind a decrease in the number of suspected suicides for the third year in a row - down to 538.

The rate of suspected suicides per 100,000 people is also down from a 13-year average of 11.7 to 10.2 this year.

The head of an intervention group for building sites Mates in Construction Victoria McArthur said many Kiwis are still struggling.

"We're seeing that anxiety levels and stress levels is increasing and suicidal ideation is also on the increase," McArthur said.

The construction sector is over-represented in suicide statistics with one person dying every week.

"There are specific areas where we know we have vulnerable groups and we know our young Māori men are one of those vulnerable groups," McArthur said.

The national average is 10.2 people per 100,000 dying of suspected suicide, but for the Māori population it's 15.9.

"We need to save more lives - 538, yes it's better but there's still a lot more to be done," McArthur said.

Robinson wants the continued support of the Government to help facilitate more early intervention. 

"My big hope is that politicians of whatever party actually notice and understand what has made the difference here," Robinson said.

What has made the difference is the teaching of little good habits that help Kiwis get from one day to the next to the next.

Where to find help and support:

Shine (domestic violence) - 0508 744 633

Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)

Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737

What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)

Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email or online chat

Samaritans - 0800 726 666

Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757

Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Shakti Community Council - 0800 742 584