Experts disagree over suicide stats

South Canterbury health practitioners are at odds about the chief coroner's suicide statistics.

Counsellor Marion Williams said she was cautious of statistics as they did not reflect what she was seeing in her practice.

"Reality often hides behind statistics," she said.

"What I am seeing is different to what the statistics are reflecting.

"I gather the waiting lists to get in to see a counsellor are extremely long and there is a lack of funding for counselling."

Williams was disappointed to see two suicides in South Canterbury in the figures released yesterday, as those were two lives that should not have been lost.

"I think the most important message that needs to get out there is there are solutions for the deep hurt that people are feeling."

South Canterbury District Health Board's (SCDHB) mental health service practitioners differed in their views.

In a statement, clinical director mental health and older persons' health, Cecilia Smith-Hamel, and suicide prevention coordinator Paula Kimble said the figures were accurate.

They were pleased the suicide rates in South Canterbury were on a downward trend but said there continued to be a high priority placed on suicide prevention.

"A focus of our suicide prevention work is to increase access to mental health literacy ... Another focus is on suicide postvention, which is the activity that occurs after a suspected suicide.

"This includes working to ensure people affected and/or bereaved by suicide have access to support that best suits their needs," they said.

The Timaru Herald