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Suicide the topic for Chief Coroner and Mike King’s visit

Media release

28 March 2014

Suicide the topic for Chief Coroner and Mike King’s Southern visit

Southern DHB is bringing Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean and radio and TV celebrity Mike King to Invercargill, Dunedin and Oamaru in April to talk and listen to community agencies about suicide.

Public Health South Medical Officer of Health, Dr Derek Bell, said audiences were looking forward to getting both the personal and the professional perspectives of suicide and prevention in New Zealand.

“We want to make our community aware that it’s OK to talk about suicide and not hide the issue but at the same time we want to get the message out that it’s not OK to sensationalise suicide either.”

“Judge MacLean has been an advocate for improved suicide reporting in the health and media sectors so we are keen to hear his recommendations on media coverage, the facts behind the statistics, postvention response and how the Coronial system works,” he said.

“Comedian and TV personality, Mike King, also a campaigner for the prevention of suicide, will bring his tale of life and loss on this troubling social issue.”

Judge MacLean said New Zealand’s suicide was stubbornly persistent.

“Coroners aren’t experts in suicide prevention, but we can see what is going on and make recommendations. The strongest message is that we should try to avoid speculation and rumour relating to suicides.”

“I have advocated a gentle opening up of suicide reporting in New Zealand however it is vital that this is done cautiously and responsibly.”

Under the Coroners Act 2006, suspected suicides are reported to the coroner. A Coroner will then investigate the death and make a formal finding, either at inquest or through a hearing on papers. The coronial system records statistics and such information can be shared to help suicide prevention efforts and initiatives undertaken by other agencies.

For the year ending 30 June 2013, provisional national annual suicide figures for the year showed total number of suicides were 541, which is a decrease of six from 2012, and two less than the average number of suicides over the last six years.

Public Health South is part of a community network of postvention groups around Otago/Southland that work to reduce the risk of further suicide after a suicide. The Suicide Prevention Coordinator’s role is primarily one of coordinating the support available in the community via the six community postvention groups in Otago and Southland.

“It’s about raising community awareness of the importance of suicide prevention and building supportive communities,” said Dr Bell

“One key preventative factor is to build and support communities to connect all the individuals within it in supportive and valuing ways. The Chief Coroner’s visit provides an ideal opportunity to do that.”


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