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Cost of suicide to NZ nearly $1.4 billion a year

Hon Jim Anderton

Minister of Agriculture
Minister for Biosecurity
Minister of Fisheries
Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education

Progressive Leader

9 December 2005 Media release

Cost of suicide to New Zealand calculated at nearly $1.4 billion a year

Suicides and attempted suicides cost New Zealand nearly $1.4 billion in 2002 - the most recent year for which there are official suicide statistics - according to a report released today by Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton.

The report, The Cost of Suicide to Society, was written by Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences health economist Des O'Dea, and commissioned by the Ministry of Health to inform the development of a new New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy.

The report estimates the cost of the 460 suicides and 5095 attempted suicides in 2002 to total $1,381,492,000 - nearly $1.4 billion. Each suicide was estimated to cost a total of $2,931,250.

The report breaks down the total into economic and non-economic costs. Economic costs include services used in cases of suicide and attempted suicide, and production lost due to people exiting or being absent from the workforce. In 2002 the economic cost was $238,531,000.

However, the overwhelmingly higher component of the $1.4 billion is the non-economic cost. Based on Land Transport New Zealand's 'Value of a Statistical Life' calculation, the non-economic cost is the value society attaches to each life-year lost. In 2002 this was $1,142,400,000.

O'Dea puts the non-economic cost of each suicide at $2,483,000, and the economic cost at $448,250.

"Suicide costs society dearly. While the direct economic costs of suicide are not insignificant, they are dwarfed by the intangible costs - the loss to family and friends and the lost potential from lives cut prematurely short," said Mr Anderton

The O'Dea report updates and extends previous research carried out in 1995 by Coggan, Fanslow and Norton. The report constructs estimates of Disability-Adjusted Life-Years (DALYS) lost as a result of suicide or attempted suicide. Overall an estimated 19,218 potential future life years were lost due to suicides occurring in 2002.

The average economic cost of services (eg: ambulance, police, funeral, counselling) used per suicide is $10,200. The average economic cost of services used per attempted suicide (eg. health-care) is $3,750 (All figures are in 2004 dollars excl. GST).


Full report available at: www.moh.govt.nz/suicideprevention


ENDS

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