Estimating the benefits of investment in ongoing suicide mortality review – a cost benefit analysis

27 Mar 2017 | Suicide Mortality Review Committee

This cost benefit analysis (CBA) was undertaken to assess the benefits of investment in ongoing suicide mortality review as a tool for reducing suicide rates. It was developed jointly by Health Quality & Safety Commission and the New Zealand Institute for Economic Research (NZIER).

The CBA highlights New Zealand could do better in the area of suicide prevention.

  1. Rates of suicide have remained static over the last ten years despite suicide prevention activities. For Māori youth, they have increased by around 65 percent (90 percent for young Māori women) over this time.
  2. Other jurisdictions have been able to make reductions of 10–20 percent in their numbers and rates of suicide through carefully planned prevention strategies based on in depth research and carefully targeted programmes.

The CBA asserts that improved targeting of the prevention spend, based on new insights resulting from in-depth analysis of current cross agency data, has the greatest chance of making a real difference. This approach is supported by the WHO which recommends establishment of integrated data collection systems which service to identify vulnerable groups, individuals and situations.

Mortality review committees operating under the New Zealand Public Health Act 2000, are the only agencies (apart from coroners) that can require identifiable data from other agencies. It is this power that enables mortality review committees to play a unique role in bringing together these rich datasets, linking them in ways not previously possible and identifying key patterns and possible intervention points. This knowledge can be used to develop new suicide prevention strategies and action plans (both in health and other sectors), and to help agencies and services in the redesign of their policies, procedures and services.

The CBA concludes that by improving our understanding of suicide, and where and when to intervene in the system, government can more effectively target investment to reduce New Zealand’s high rate of suicide, which has remained largely static for the past ten years.

Last updated 22/10/2021