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Jim Anderton comments on 2001 suicide data

Media release

Hon Jim Anderton Associate Minister of Health

1 April 2001

Jim Anderton comments on 2001 suicide data

Data for 2001 released today are a reminder that New Zealand as a society continues to face a very serious challenge from suicide, Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton said today.

"I am concerned that the total number of suicides in 2001 was 499, up from 458 in 2000, although still down from 516 in 1999 and 577 in 1998," Jim Anderton said.

He noted that in 2001, young adults aged 20-24 years had the highest suicide rates at 25.3 deaths per 100,000 population, followed by adults aged 25-29 years (21.7 deaths per 100,000 population) and 30-34 year olds (21.2 per 100,000 population).

Jim Anderton said the 2001 data supports the coalition government's intention to develop a national suicide strategy across all age groups.

"The development of an all-ages strategy is recognition of the fact that suicide is not just a youth issue. We must look at ways to address suicide and suicide attempts across all ages," the minister said.

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Youth Development will lead the development of the all-age national suicide strategy.

The strategy, expected to be completed by the middle of next year, will build on the work already undertaken in the New Zealand Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy.

Some key findings of the 2001 suicide statistics include:

· The total number of suicides for 2001 was 499, up from 458 in 2000 but down from 516 in 1999 and 577 in 1998. ·

Males continued to have a higher suicide death rate than females in 2001, with a rate of 18.3 compared to 5.5 per 100,000 population.

Between 2000 and 2001 the suicide rate decreased for males (18.7 to 18.3 per 100,000 population) and increased for females (4.0 to 5.5 per 100,000 population). ·

The total rate of youth suicide (15-24 years) increased with 20.0 deaths per 100,000 population in 2001 compared with 18.1 per 100,000 population in 2000. ·

In 2001 the all-ages sex ratio for suicide was 3.3 male suicides to every female suicide. The youth suicide (15-24 years) was 3.7 male suicides to every female suicide. ·

New Zealand has the highest male youth suicide rate (15-24 years) and second highest female youth suicide rate compared to other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. ·

Mäori continue to have a higher suicide rate than non- Mäori. The 2001 suicide rates for Mäori males and females (20.7 and 6.8 per 100,000 population) were higher than for non-Mäori males and females (17.7 and 4.9 per 100,000 population). ·

Youth (15-24 years) have a much higher rate of hospitalisation rate for intentional self-harm in 2002 (186.5 cases per 100,000) than the total population (85.5 cases). ·

More females are hospitalised for self-inflicted harm than males with a ratio in 2001 of 2.1 female hospitalisations to every male hospitalisation.


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