Suicide numbers fall slightly

ANDREW BEACH
Last updated 12:12 20/08/2014

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The number of New Zealanders who committed suicide last year fell slightly to 529, but the figure remains "stubbornly high and disappointingly consistent", Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean said today.

MacLean today released the provisional annual suicide figures for the year ending 30 June 2014, with the total of 529 being the lowest - by two - since annual coronial figures were first produced for the 2007/08 year.

There were 12 fewer suicides compared to the previous year, and 29 fewer than the 2010/11 year, which was the highest annual number recorded in the last seven  years.

The previous lowest total was recorded for 2008/09 with 531 suicide deaths.

MacLean said that while it was encouraging to see a slight drop in numbers, "the overall rate is still stubbornly high and disappointingly consistent".

"This year's numbers have moved in the right direction but not by much."

He said one positive aspect was that youth suicide numbers (those aged under 24 years) were significantly down from last year with 110 suicides compared with 144. "We've also seen the lowest number of suicides in the 15 to 19-year-old cohort in the last seven years with 46, which is down 17 on last year and 34 the year before.

"The drop in teen suicide is good news. These are the some of the toughest and most tragic cases coroners deal with," MacLean said.

A trend of increasing suicides among older people continued, with the number of suicides recorded in over-60 year olds up from 75 in 2012-13 to 97 in 2013-14.

"The rise in older people taking their own lives is something I highlighted last year, and this trend has continued, particularly for the above-80-year-old age cohort."

Other findings from the 2013-14 statistics include:

  • The lowest number of suicides among 35- to 39-year-olds since records began in 2007, with 35 suicides (the annual average over the past seven years is 47).
  • Maori suicide remained steady with 108 recorded in the last year compared with 105 in 2012/13. This comes after a sharp increase in 2011/12 when 132 Maori suicides were recorded. About one in every five people who commit suicide is Maori.
  • Suicides in Christchurch city have remained steady with 69 recorded in the last year, up one from 2012/13. Prior to the February 2011 earthquake, the Christchurch suicide rate ranged between 69 and 90 a year since 2007.
Helplines and further information:
  • Lifeline: 0800 543 354 - Provides 24 hour telephone counselling

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  • Youthline: 0800 376 633 or free text 234 - Provides 24 hour telephone and text counselling services for young people

  • Samaritans: 0800 726 666 - Provides 24 hour telephone counselling.

  • Tautoko: 0508 828 865 - provides support, information and resources to people at risk of suicide, and their family, whānau and friends.

  • Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (noon to midnight)

  • Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm - 6pm weekdays)

If it is an emergency or you feel you or someone you know is at risk, please call 111

For information about suicide prevention, see http://www.spinz.org.nz.

- Stuff

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