Prof Annette Beautrais, of the University of Canterbury
School of Health Sciences, discusses suicide prevention
research. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The world is entering a ''new era'' for suicide
prevention, and New Zealand should focus more high-level
leadership on this issue.
That is the view of international researcher and adjunct
professor Annette Beautrais, of the Canterbury University
School of Health Sciences.
Prof Beautrais spoke earlier this week at the Barnett Lecture
Theatre, Dunedin Hospital, on Wednesday of ''A New Era in
Suicide Prevention'', and commented later in an interview.
More than 100 people attended the lecture, given in
association with the University of Otago preventive and
social medicine department.
''New Zealand does need to provide high-profile leadership
around suicide prevention,'' she said.
Such an approach would be in keeping with high-level suicide
prevention initiatives being undertaken in the United States,
and research being undertaken by the World Health
If further steps were not taken, including providing more
resources, New Zealand risked ''falling behind international
efforts'', including preventive work in Australia.
New Zealand needed higher-profile leadership within the
Government and a scientific advisory body should also be
established to provide decision-makers with clear advice
based on latest research.
Prof Beautrais said about 60% of New Zealand suicide deaths
were of working-age men, aged 20 to 65, and further ways
needed to be found to encourage men to seek help, including
Providing more health-related support to men through their
workplaces should be considered as part of comprehensive
measures to cut suicide deaths.
World Health Organisation (WHO) figures show nearly a million
people die annually from suicide. Ministry of Health figures
show 478 people died by suicide in New Zealand in 2011.
Prof Beautrais said that because many complex factors
contributed to suicide, suicide prevention had long proved a
''very difficult'' challenge.
The World Health Organisation was preparing ''its first ever
world suicide prevention report'', which she said was due to
be released later this year.