Key to get update on suicide debate

REBECCA TODD
Last updated 05:00 30/10/2010

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A report on easing suicide-reporting restrictions will go to Prime Minister John Key next week.

In August, The Press reported chief coroner Judge Neil MacLean as saying there should be greater openness over the reporting and discussion of suicide.

The annual suicide rate in New Zealand is nearly 50 per cent higher than that of the road toll, figures show.

The media is prohibited from reporting the circumstances of suicide unless the coroner allows it.

The Press ran a 10-day series on the issue. It attracted a large public response, with many families supporting more open reporting of suicide to raise awareness.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said Key had asked the Ministerial Committee on Suicide Prevention to consider the issue and report to him.

The committee met yesterday morning. Dunne said he would give Key the report next week.

Key has signalled that he is happy for Parliament to look into the issue.

He said in August that restrictions on the mainstream media were "somewhat defunct" because of social networking websites and blogs on the internet.

The chief coroner said he had updated the committee on what had been happening over the past three months since The Press suicide series.

"The heart of it all is that ongoing feeling, particularly from some aspects of the responsible media, that the guidelines need to be reviewed," he said.

"I just welcome the fact that the committee has picked up the cudgels and is running with it."

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