The Suicide Mortality Review Committee (SuMRC) is an independent committee that reviews and advises the Health Quality & Safety Commission on how to reduce the number of suicide deaths in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Committee comprises eight members, appointed by the Commission. The current chair of the Committee is Professor Rob Kydd.

The Committee membership reflects the following suicide knowledge and expertise:

  • suicide postvention approaches
  • provision of Māori and Pacific peoples, and national service planning and delivery
  • operational policy in the social sector
  • suicide issues relating specifically to Māori whānau and Pacific peoples
  • social science and health research
  • lived experience
  • mortality review systems
  • risk assessment
  • clinical expertise.

The committee is advised by a secretariat within the Health Quality & Safety Commission and also benefits from the guidance of advisors from the coronial service and the Ministry of Health.

Find out more about our committee members and advisors.

Contact us at info@hqsc.govt.nz if you would like more information about the SUMRC.

Purpose

Aotearoa New Zealand has a high suicide rate – each week, on average, more than 10 people die by suicide. Suicide is devastating for all those personally affected and is a tragedy for society as a whole. The SuMRC acknowledges the grief of the families, whānau and friends whose loss has contributed to the statistics.

The SuMRC believes suicide is preventable and intends to use the learnings from these deaths to help prevent further deaths by suicide.

The SuMRC, along with four other mortality review committees, operates under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000. This allows it to obtain data from any agency and examine a wider range of material than might otherwise be available.

This data enables the SuMRC to carry out effective reviews of death by suicide including:

  • building a comprehensive history of the lives of individuals who die by suicide (no identifiable data is published)
  • reporting on patterns across cases
  • providing advice and recommendations to prevent further deaths.

From reviewing the lives of those who die by suicide, the SuMRC will develop an in-depth understanding of suicide and guide new prevention and intervention activities. It will also improve existing activities, policies and practices.

Background

The Suicide Mortality Review Committee (SuMRC) was initially established as a trial in late 2013. The trial produced two reports: a cost-benefit analysis of investment in ongoing suicide mortality review as a tool for reducing suicide rates, and a report reviewing the suicides of three groups with particularly high death rates. These groups were rangatahi Māori (Māori youth) aged 15–24, men aged 25–64 and people who had accessed mental health services in the year before their death.

After identifying that there were clear opportunities across the health, justice, and social sectors for intervention, the SuMRC has now been established as a permanent mortality review committee.

Advisors

Carla na Nagara

Coroner

Carla studied sociology, Māori studies and law at Victoria University of Wellington. She worked in primarily in research, lecturing and policy analysis before practising law from 2000.

Since being appointed a coroner in 2007, Carla has developed a particular interest in the social, cultural and familial backgrounds of young people who commit suicide. She sees this as being directly relevant to establishing the circumstances of death.

In the context of these inquiries, Carla explores ways to work with young people to identify ways to reduce deaths by suicide.

Dr Ian Soosay

Deputy director and principal advisor mental health, Ministry of Health

Dr Ian Soosay joined the Ministry of Health in November 2016 as deputy director of mental health. His previous role was as a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland.

Ian attended medical school in Edinburgh and went on to train in psychiatry in Edinburgh, Cambridge and London. Since moving to Auckland in 2009, he has worked in clinical roles across all three metropolitan DHBs in early intervention, general adult psychiatry and maternal mental health. He was also the clinical director for Raukura Hauora o Tainui PHO, which gave him valuable experience in primary care.

Ian has been the psychiatrist responsible for Niue since 2010, which has helped his understanding of the mental health needs of Pacific peoples. In addition to his experience in the UK and New Zealand, Ian has worked for the World Health Organisation in Indonesia in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami and conducted mental health research in East Timor.

Ian is a fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He has master’s degrees in social epidemiology from University College London and mental health policy and service development from University Nova in Lisbon.

Last updated 10/10/2018