Chief coroner Judge Neil MacLean talks about suicide, at
the Dunedin Public Library last night. Photo by Linda
A frank conversation about the ''stubbornly persistent''
suicide rate in New Zealand was held in Dunedin last night.
Chief coroner Judge Neil MacLean, of Hamilton, talked about
suicide to 50 people in the Dunningham Suite at the Dunedin
The Dunedin talk was the final stop of a southern tour that
included talks in Oamaru on Wednesday and Invercargill on
Judge MacLean was joined by comedian Mike King in Oamaru and
Invercargill but last night the judge was on his own to talk
and listen about suicide.
Judge MacLean detailed how the suicide rate in New Zealand
was ''stubbornly persistent''.
National annual suicide figures for the year ending June 30
last year revealed 541 suicides, which was six fewer suicides
than in 2012, and two fewer than the average number of
suicides for the past six years, he said.
The latest suicide statistics revealed 70% of those
committing suicide were men and the ''disturbing'' trend of
more young Maori females was now featuring, he said.
Judge MacLean said youth suicide was a considerable concern
and other ''at-risk'' groups included older males, Maori,
Pasifika and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersexual
The talk was designed to make the community more aware that
it was acceptable to talk about suicide.
There were many reasons why people contemplated and completed
suicide and although there was no single answer to the issue,
a key way to lower the suicide rate was connecting every
individual within a community in a supportive and valuing
The suicide rate in Christchurch dropped after the
earthquakes because neighbours met and ''pitched in'' to help
each other and there was ''a feeling of togetherness'' in the
Suicide prevention was a community issue and community
support agencies and district health board services played
key roles in supporting at-risk people.
Judge MacLean said he was hopeful and it was ''looking
promising'' for the national suicide rate to drop below 500
this year, he said.
The audience shared their stories of suicide and agreed with
a frank comment made by a Dunedin man who had survived a
''Not talking about it has not worked. We've got to start a
Where to get help
Depression Helpline (8am-midnight): 0800-111-757
Samaritans: 0800-211-211/(04) 473-9739
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508-828-865
Youthline: 0800-376-633, free text 234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What's Up (for 5-18 year olds; 1pm-11pm): 0800-942-8787
Kidsline (for children 14 and under; 4pm-6pm weekdays):
If it is an emergency, call 111