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Latest suicide statistics released

Media Release

12 December 2008

Latest suicide statistics released

Suicide rates have remained stable over recent years, the latest suicide statistics show.

The rate of 12.2 suicide deaths per 100,000 population has decreased by about 19 percent since 1998, but has remained unchanged since 2005.

The Ministry of Health today released its annual suicide statistics in the publication, Suicide Facts: Deaths and intentional self-harm hospitalisations 2006. In 2006, 524 people died by suicide. Those who had particularly high rates were aged 15-29 years, along with Mâori and those living in the most deprived areas of New Zealand. Male suicide rates continue to be almost three times the rate of female suicide rates – or almost four times the rate amongst those aged 15-24 years.

The good news is that there has been a 40 percent drop in suicide rates for men aged 20-29 years and a 31 percent decrease in suicide amongst youth aged 15-24 since 1996.

This year the Ministry has changed the way it counts self-harm hospitalizations by excluding those patients admitted through the emergency department and staying less than 48 hours.. This means that the data should no longer be affected by different recording practices and will show trends more accurately.

The new data shows the rate of self-harm hospitalisation has also declined about 19 percent since 1996.

"It's pleasing to see the numbers trending downwards across several categories, especially in the traditionally high-risk group of males aged 20-29," said Dr Janice Wilson, the Ministry of Health's Deputy Director-General Population Health. "However, it's obvious there's plenty more to do, with suicide rates for Mâori, youth and those from more deprived areas still far too high."

The publication follows the release in March of the New Zealand Suicide Action Plan 2008-2012. The Action Plan outlines a detailed programme of action to reduce the rates of suicide and suicide attempt in New Zealand. Due to the complex and multiple causes of suicide, a range of suicide prevention activities are needed in different sectors of the community.

There are already a variety of activities underway to prevent suicide, such as the National Depression Initiative featuring John Kirwan speaking about his experiences of depression and encouraging people to seek help. Another important initiative is The Lowdown website (www.thelowdown.co.nz), an interactive website for young people providing information about depression and online and text based support.

Some key findings of the 2006 Suicide Data include:
• There were 524 deaths from suicide and 2868 hospitalisations (excluding those patients who were admitted via the emergency department but stayed less than 48 hours) for intentional self-harm in 2006.
• The suicide rate of 12.2 deaths per 100,000 population declined significantly (by 19.1 percent) since 1998, but remains the same from 2005.
• Intentional self-harm hospitalisations have declined significantly (by 18.8 percent) since 1996.
• Male suicide rates were almost three times the female suicide rates in 2006, and female hospitalisations for intentional self-harm are approximately twice those for males.
• Suicide rates for males aged 20-29 decreased by 40 percent since 1996.
• Mâori suicide rates (17.2 per 100,000 population) in 2006 were significantly higher than non-Maori suicide rates (11.0 per 100,000 population).
• Mâori suicide rates were 10.2 percent lower than in 1998, but they are variable rather than trending downwards.
• Suicide rates for those in the most deprived socioeconomic quintile (quintile 5) were significantly higher than for those in quintile 1.
• In 2006, males from the most deprived areas were almost three times more likely to be hospitalised than those in the least deprived areas, while females from the most deprived areas were almost twice as likely to be hospitalised as those in the least deprived areas.
• In 2006, rates of suicide amongst youth (aged 15-24) decreased by 31.5 percent since their peak in 1995. Hospitalisations for intentional self-harm amongst youth decreased by 32.5 percent since 1996.
• The male youth (15-24 years) suicide rate in 2006 was 3.9 times the female rate. For intentional self-harm hospitalisations, the opposite was true, with the female youth rate being 2.4 times the male rate.


Additional information

Information about suicide prevention can be found by contacting Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand (SPINZ) (www.spinz.org.nz) or by looking at the Ministry of Health website (www.moh.govt.nz/suicideprevention).

There is evidence that some types of reporting of suicide can result in an increase in suicides. Please refer to the Ministry of Health booklet Suicide and The Media: The Reporting and Portrayal of Suicide in the Media. A Resource (www.moh.govt.nz/suicideprevention).

If you are concerned about someone who may be suicidal or is very distressed, there are a number of services you can approach. They include your primary health care provider or general practitioner (GP), community mental health service, Maori community health service and counselling services such as school counsellors or family counsellors.

Some useful phone numbers:
Lifeline - 0800 111 777
Samaritans - 0800 726 666
Youthline - 0800 376 633

For information about depression:
Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
www.depression.org.nz

Online support for young people:
The Lowdown – www.thelowdown.co.nz

In an emergency, anyone seriously concerned about an individual's immediate safety should remain with him or her until appropriate support arrives, remove any obvious means of suicide, contact the nearest hospital or psychiatric emergency services/ mental health crisis assessment team.

Suicide Facts: Deaths and Intentional Self-Harm Hospitalisations 2006 data is available on the Ministry of Health website: http://www.moh.govt.nz/suicideprevention.


ENDS

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