The Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee (CYMRC) has repeated calls for an inter-agency approach to prevent volatile substance abuse (VSA)-related deaths, following a report released today by the chief coroner.

The report reviews the coroner’s findings relating to the deaths of young people by VSA, which includes the intentional inhalation of butane-based products.

It shows there have been 63 deaths relating to the inhalation of butane-based substances between 2000 and 2012. Of the 63 deaths, 55 were people aged 24 years or under, and 24 were aged 16 years or under. Maori had the highest number of deaths, with nearly half of the 63 people who died being of Maori ethnicity.

Dr Nick Baker, Chair of the CYMRC, says a coordinated approach across many sectors is now needed to lead the prevention of injury in our young people.

“Preventing these deaths requires work to reduce both the supply of and demand for these poisonous substances.

“This includes reducing sales and access to butane-based products, voluntary control of butane by retailers, educating providers of support services to young people, community education strategies, strengthening individual knowledge and skills among youth, and providing access to quality health care.”

Dr Baker says the report aligns with the CYMRC’s own work in this area.

“The CYMRC has been doing some work in the broader context of child and youth poisoning deaths, and will be releasing a report on unintended poisoning in the coming months. The coroner’s findings align with the preliminary findings in our report.”

The CYMRC operates under the umbrella of the Health Quality & Safety Commission, and reviews the deaths of children and young people.

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