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NZ Suicide Statistics Released

Latest NZ suicide statistics released at National Suicide Prevention Symposium

The latest New Zealand suicide facts from the Ministry of Health for 2005–2006 will be released today (Thursday 22 November) by Associate Minister of Health, the Hon Jim Anderton at the fifth National Suicide Prevention Symposium in Wellington.

The statistics indicate a positive decline in suicide, with rates for 2003-2005 showing an overall decrease of 19% from the peak suicide rate in 1996–1998. This continues the downward trend of suicide rates in recent years. (13.2 deaths per 100,000 population compared with 16.3 in 1996-1998)

In addition, a decrease in suicide among young people aged 15-24 is also apparent, with a decline of 33.5% since the peak rate in 1995-1997. (27.2 to 18.1 deaths per 100,000 population)

Merryn Statham, Director of Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand (SPINZ), a service of the Mental Health Foundation says:

“It is very encouraging to see a continuing downward trend in suicide rates in New Zealand. We need to focus on suicide trend statistics as a whole, rather than looking too closely at year-by-year data.

“Suicide trends give us a more accurate picture of this area. It only takes a small number of suicides to make the figures look quite different from the year before. These annual fluctuations do not show overall trends.”

The data shows that males continue to have a higher suicide rate than females, with 3.1 male suicides to every female suicide – a rate that remains unchanged since 2001, while more females are hospitalised for attempted suicide than males. In 2006 there were two female hospitalisations for every male hospitalisation, unchanged from 2005.

Judi Clements, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation says: “This data means that we still need to be vigilant about access to the means of suicide as well as reaching those who may be at risk of because of depression and other known risk factors.”

The two-day symposium, held at the Wellington School of Medicine on 21 and 22 November, is organised by Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand (SPINZ), and will encourage individuals, communities, and organisations to work collaboratively to enhance suicide prevention efforts in New Zealand.

ENDS

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