Suicides up 20% in South

The number of suicides in Otago-Southland rose more than 20% last year, provisional figures show.

Nationally, 606 people died from suicide, compared with 579 in 2015-16 and 564 the year before.

In Otago-Southland, 52 people took their own life, compared with 43 in 2015-16 and 42 in 2014-15. In the South, it was the highest number since 2009-10, when there were 60 suicide deaths.

Releasing the figures yesterday, Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall said New Zealand had much to do to turn around its stubbornly high suicide rate.
"In the last year, we’ve seen a lot of discussion about suicide and the incredible emotional toll it takes on those who are left behind.

"What is equally important is our discussion around how we can prevent suicides and how everyone — family, friends and colleagues — is able to recognise someone at risk and ensure they get the professional help they need."

The national suicide rate per 100,000 people for the year was 12.64, higher than last year (12.33) but similar to 2010-11.

The 20-24 age group recorded the highest number of suicide deaths (79), followed by 64 each in both the 25-29 and 40-44 age groups.

Maori had the highest suicide rate of all ethnic groups with 130 deaths, an increase of one on the previous year.

The figures are called provisional because they include cases in which the coroner has not made a final ruling.

Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust chairwoman Corinda Taylor said the new figures were "devastating".

"I echo what Judge Marshall said about the discussion around suicide and how everyone should be able to recognise someone at risk and ensure that they get professional help," Mrs Taylor said.

She was concerned by the increase in the Southern District Health Board catchment, and the national increase in the 20-24 age group, she said.

Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said while "one suicide is too many", it was important to consider population growth.

"Looking at this provisional data, it’s important to note that against the backdrop of a growing population the rate is fairly steady at 12.64 per 100,000 this year."
The Government was responding with its social investment fund for mental health.

"The $100million package invests in a range of initiatives designed to further improve access to effective and responsive mental health services, while at the same time starting to shift our focus towards prevention, early intervention and resilience-building."

SDHB mental health medical director Dr Brad Strong said it was working to reduce suicides.

"We also have work to do as a community to ensure the southern district is an environment where people can live supported and hopeful lives.

"We look forward to the release of the national Suicide Prevention Framework for further guidance as to the direction in this area," Dr Strong said.

Where to get help:

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (Mon-Fri 1pm to 10pm. Sat-Sun 3pm-10pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Samaritans 0800 726 666
• If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.​




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