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Many hidden impacts behind suicide numbers

Victim Support


24 August 2018

Many hidden impacts behind suicide numbers says Victim Support

Bereaved friends, witnesses, and families are the forgotten victims behind New Zealand’s increasing suicide rate, says Victim Support.

Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall today released the annual provisional suicide statistics, showing 668 people died by suicide in New Zealand in the 2017/18 year. The suicide rate is at the highest level since the provisional statistics were first recorded and has increased for the fourth year in a row.

Victim Support Acting Chief Executive Karen McLeay said the growing suicide rate is reflected in the number of people affected by suicide turning to the service for help. In the 2016/17 financial year, Victim Support helped 2489 people bereaved by suicide, continuing an upward trend over recent years.

“There is a much deeper cost to society than suicide statistics show. Suicide creates a ripple effect across the wider community,” says Ms McLeay.

“For every person we lose to suicide, there are many family, whanau, neighbours, schools, and workplaces affected too. When grief strikes it leaves deep, invisible scars.”

Victim Support provides ‘postvention’ support services for people affected by suicide, available nationwide. Ms McLeay said Victim Support is normally in contact with the bereaved within hours of a suicide being reported.

“It’s tough for those left behind. It’s more than losing someone, there is this deep shock to their whole worldview.”

“A lot of our support is in the immediate aftermath, but can extend to weeks and months after the death – as long as it is required.”

“That help can take many forms. It may just be someone to talk to and help to understand grief. It could equally be practical support to deal with the many formal processes and challenges whanau face after losing a loved one.”

“For those affected by suicide, life is changed in an instant. It is often difficult to make sense of that kind of traumatic event.”

Ms McLeay says those bereaved by suicide are often at significantly elevated risk of suicidal behaviour themselves.

“A lot of our work is in identifying those at risk, reducing the risk of subsequent suicidal behaviours amongst those affected, and promoting coping and resilience strategies.”

Ms McLeay encouraged anyone affected by suicide, or worried about someone affected by suicide, to reach out to Victim Support on 0800 842 846.


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