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Reducing suicide rates requires a concerted effort

The Ministry of Health has today released its latest report on Suicide Facts: Deaths and intentional self-harm hospitalisations.

The report says there were 549 people who died by suicide in 2012 and almost three quarters of them were men.

Among district health boards, Waikato District Health Board’s intentional self-harm hospitalisation rate at 64.9 per cent hospitalisations per 100,000 population, was just under the national rate of 66 per cent.

Dr Nigel Murray

Dr Nigel Murray

Chief executive Dr Nigel Murray said the DHB’s rate was still unacceptably high. Waikato’s data for completed suicides, while higher than the national average, was not the highest.

The majority of those committing suicide in New Zealand, are not known to health services, he said.

The DHB is in the process of completing its suicide prevention and postvention plans with funders, public health and mental health agencies.

“Suicide has a multi-factorial causation. Mental illness is certainly a significant risk factor but it is by no means the only one,” he said.

“There is quite a lot known about suicide prevention now and reducing the rates requires a concerted effort from across the wider health and social services sector.

“Suicide rates in New Zealand are the highest in the OECD comparator countries and that is a tragedy.”

Senior planning manager Paul Keesing said that while the statistics show the Waikato has not had significantly high rates of suicide in comparison to other areas in the country, the project is a priority.

“We intend to ensure focus is directed to this area, as any suicide or suicide attempt is one too many,” he said.

The project is currently focusing on developing action plans that will ensure a coordinated effort for suicide prevention activities and suicide postvention support.

“Our aim is to ensure excellent communication and coordination between each agency… so we can all respond appropriately to the diverse needs of our people and communities in the Waikato,” said Keesing.

An online toolkit was recently released by the Ministry of Health to assist district health boards with their planning. The web-resource, which brings together research, programmes and services, was co-developed by the Ministry, DHBs, health professionals and community organisations to help reduce suicide rates across New Zealand.

Health minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said suicide was a serious concern for the country.

“Around 500 New Zealanders take their own lives every year,” said Dr Coleman.

There was some evidence of suicide rates declining in New Zealand but the rate was still too high, particularly among Maori and young people.

The toolkit is available on the Ministry of Health website.

If you or someone you know is struggling there are people who can help

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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