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Some progress amidst the sorrow in suicide numbers

Some progress amidst the sorrow in suicide numbers

Despite the continuing unacceptably high number of suicides, the Coroner’s latest provisional figures, for the year ending 30 June 2013, show a reduction in the number of deaths by suicide among both young people aged between 15 and 24 years and Māori. The figures also show that suicide deaths in Christchurch have decreased compared to the previous year, back to pre-earthquake levels.

The total number of suicides for the year was 541, which is a decrease of six from last year, and two less than the average number of suicides over the last six years.

“It is difficult to take something positive out of a situation where so many New Zealanders find their personal circumstance so desperate they feel compelled to take their own lives. As Chief Coroner Judge Neil Mclean says overall suicide numbers remain stubbornly high, but progress has been made with noticeably fewer suicides among young New Zealanders and Māori,” says Associate Health Minister Todd McClay.

“There are signs that concerted community and health agency programmes and activities have been effective in reducing suicides in these two groups and that is encouraging.”

“Addressing the complex and challenging issue of suicide requires everyone to work together: communities, whānau, families and individuals, government agencies and NGOs. The whole of society has a role to play in reducing the number of preventable deaths by suicide.”

This year saw the release of the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2013–2016. This 30-point action plan is the next step in the Government’s commitment to address New Zealand’s high suicide rates and builds on work and investment in the suicide prevention area, including previous government programmes.

“The Action Plan has been designed as a programme that engages all New Zealanders. It aims to address a range of factors that are associated with suicide including strengthening support for family, whānau and communities and extending existing services, specifically addressing geographical gaps in the coverage of services,” says Mr McClay.

A wide range of other cross-agency activities also contribute to suicide prevention. These include: the Children’s Action Plan, the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project, Whānau Ora, and Better Public Services.


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