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Suicide rates unacceptably high – mortality review committee

Suicide Mortality Review Committee
27 August 2019

The provisional rates of suicide released yesterday continue to raise serious concerns for the Suicide Mortality Review Committee (SuMRC). The SuMRC is an independent committee that reviews and advises the Health Quality & Safety Commission on how to reduce the number of suicide deaths in New Zealand.

The SuMRC acknowledges those who died by suicide and recognises the pain and hurt of family and whānau bereaved by suicide.

This year’s provisional figures from the Office of the Chief Coroner show that 685 people died by suicide in 2018, which equates to a rate of 13.93 deaths per 100,000 people.

SuMRC chair, Professor Rob Kydd says the figures released today are unacceptably high.

'We must work together to reduce these rates. Suicide is a complex public health problem that requires the combined effort of individuals, communities and government.'

He says the continuing high rates of youth suicide, especially among Māori, are of particular concern.

'The rising rates of Māori suicide are especially alarming. These latest figures show that Māori are almost three times more likely than everyone else to die by suicide. Government agencies need to take a Treaty-based equity approach to suicide prevention to reduce the growing disparities.

'We call on all agencies and providers to continue to engage respectfully with Māori in order to identify appropriate solutions.'

Prof Kydd says the relatively high rates of suicide among men aged 45 to 55 years highlight the need for focused suicide prevention campaigns designed for this group.

'Community initiatives are a major component of suicide prevention and it is essential communities are adequately resourced to design, implement and evaluate effective strategies to prevent suicide.'

SuMRC considers cross-government collaboration to be an essential component of suicide prevention and looks forward to working closely with the new Suicide Prevention Office to reduce suicide rates.

For further information: Lizzie Price, Health Quality & Safety Commission, 0276 957 744

If you or someone you know need immediate help, please call:

  • Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 (mental health, depression, and anxiety counselling)
  • Lifeline: 0800 543 354
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 | 0508 TAUTOKO; 12 noon to 12 midnight (those in distress, or those who are concerned about the wellbeing of someone else).

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