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Strengthen relationships to prevent suicide

15 August 2012

Strengthen relationships to prevent suicide

The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) is encouraging all New Zealanders to think about how we can work together to reduce the suicide rate, chief executive Judi Clements says.

The Ministry of Health today released its annual statistical report Suicide Facts: Deaths and intentional self-harm hospitalisations 2010.

“While it is encouraging that rates of youth suicide are continuing to decline, it is concerning that Māori youth suicide rates are not showing the same downward trend,” Ms Clements says.

“The statistics tell us there needs to be greater attention to meeting the needs of men, of Maori rangatahi in particular, and of people living in rural and socioeconomically deprived areas."

For the first time, a comparison between urban and rural suicides has been included in the Ministry of Health's statistics. This shows a significantly higher rate of suicide in rural areas compared to urban, particularly for men.

"We encourage New Zealanders to start conversations about how we can support each other, build resilience and wellbeing and strengthen the connections we have with family, whanau, friends and the community. Some of the most effective protective factors against suicide are supportive relationships, belief in a positive future and a strong cultural identity,” Ms Clements says.

Suicide prevention is a core focus of the MHF's work, which includes working with communities and professionals to support safe and effective suicide prevention activities, reduce stigma and develop positive mental health and wellbeing.

The MHF provides a suicide prevention information service (SPINZ) which has resources and information available to improve New Zealanders' understanding of suicide prevention and increase their capacity to help. SPINZ resources include information about risk and protective factors for suicide, warning signs, common myths about suicide, understanding suicide across cultures, how to help someone at risk and how to look after yourself. The SPINZ service recently appointed a Maori resource development officer who is working to design suicide prevention information relevant to Maori communities.

“We also have strong, positive partnerships with the national Kia Piki te Ora network of Maori suicide prevention coordinators, and other organisations working together under the Government’s New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy 2006-2016 and New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2008-2012.”

"Although Government support is essential, we can make a difference. We all have a role to play in preventing suicide,” Ms Clements says.

Additional information

SPINZ resources available from the Mental Health Foundation include:

Responding to people at risk of suicide – how can you and your organisation help? – a booklet concerning appropriate responses to managing suicide and self harm. It is designed for organisations and individuals who do not have a primary role in supporting people at risk of suicide, but may have contact with people at risk of suicide as part of their core business.

Information on Suicide Prevention – a series of videos presented by Judy Bailey on a range of topics including warning signs, risk factors, suicide bereavement, caring for someone who is suicidal, suicide in communities and suicide myths.

SPINZ Newsletter – a regular electronic newsletter including stories about safe and effective suicide prevention activities in New Zealand.


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