Suicide is a problem for us all

17:00, Aug 11 2010
suicide
As a community, we need to accept the scale of the problem of suicide.

Today The Press publishes, for the first time ever in such detail, the statistics behind New Zealand's hidden tragedy.

The Coroner has agreed to the publication of horrifying statistics that plainly show the cost in lives each year of our suicide toll.

The 540-odd lives lost each year easily outpaces the road toll. Yet little mention is made publicly of our silent killer.

Partly that is because of New Zealand's relatively strict laws around the reporting of suicide. Health professionals have also long argued that detailed discussion of suicide can lead to "copycat'' or additional needless death.

Yet given the numbers of suicides have remained high, by international comparisons, The Press believes it is time to again ask the question: Should we be more open in talking about such a deadly disease?

The editor of The Press, Andrew Holden, said he welcomed the release of the suicide statistics. "Suicide is clearly a significant health issue for New Zealand, yet the imposed silence around its coverage in the media does not appear to have reduced the problem.

"This paper understands the sensitivities around reporting specific cases, such as detailing the method used by a particular person, and the worry that this can trigger copycat suicides.

"But brushing the issue under the carpet clearly is not working either. As a community, we need to accept the scale of the problem, and have an open and honest debate about it."

What do you think? Should suicide be discussed more openly? Are we brushing it under the carpet? Have your say. Comment below or email us at reporters@press.co.nz and we will publish your thoughts.

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