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Decline In Youth Suicides Good News

The Ministry of Youth Affairs is pleased to see that the latest provisional youth suicide statistics show a reduction in 1999.

The statistics were released by the Ministry of Health today.

Debbie Edwards, National Co-ordinator Youth Suicide Prevention at Youth Affairs, said "This is a good sign and we hope this is the beginning of a downward trend in our youth suicide rate. 119 suicide deaths in 1999 devastated the families and friends of these young people - it is 119 deaths too many."

Youth Affairs now leads the co-ordination of the New Zealand Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy. This provides a framework for a broad range of ongoing initiatives across government and the community. Initiatives in education, health, welfare, and community development are in place.

The Strategy is also a practical tool that community groups can use to develop suicide prevention programmes.

"There's been a great deal of effort and resource put into the prevention of youth suicide and we are starting to see very encouraging results. The causes of suicide are complex, so it is difficult to attribute this decline to any particular factor.

"It's possible that the wide range of new initiatives under the Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy have contributed to the reduction. These include expanded youth mental health services, community and youth development programmes, training for people who work with young people at risk, and better information services (such as SPINZ). All of these have helped make a positive difference," Ms Edwards added.

"Families and communities have also been more aware and supportive of young people who may be vulnerable."

Youth suicide prevention programmes received an additional $1.2 million in this year's budget.

Ms Edwards said "We can't be complacent. The Ministry of Youth Affairs is committed to building on the youth development and suicide prevention work already underway, so that the suicide rate will continue to decline."

Youth Affairs is also working on the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa that will provide a framework for supporting the positive development of young men and women. This will be completed later in the year.

Ends

The Ministry of Health has published a resource to help with the reporting and portrayal of suicide in the media. For copies of Suicide and the Media - The reporting and portrayal of suicide in the media.- A resource contact Wickliffe Press on 0800 226 440 or look at the Ministry's website http://www.moh.govt.nz

For information about SPINZ (Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand) visit their website http://www.spinz.org.nz

The Ministry of Health media release on the provisional youth suicide statistics can be found on its website http://www.moh.govt.nz/media.html

Ends


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