The number of New Zealanders taking their own life has risen to a record even though more effort is being put into preventing suicide.
The male suicide rate has risen while the female suicide rate has fallen.
In the year to the end of June, 564 people committed suicide, NZ chief coroner Judge Deborah Marshall said on Tuesday.
This is the highest number since the provisional statistics were first recorded for the 2007/08 year, although the suicide rate – the number of suicides per 100,000 population – is below the 2010/11 and 2011/12 years.
This year’s total is 35 higher than the previous year, which was a drop of 12 and the lowest on record.
It’s six more than 2010/11, which was the previous highest total.
Judge Marshall said it was disappointing the drop in suicides observed last year had not continued.
“Yet again we are seeing a total suicide figure sitting in the mid-500 range. Our provisional suicide figures go back eight years and in that time there has been a variation of 35 suicide deaths.
“Over the last eight years I believe we’ve seen a shift in society’s preparedness to have a more open conversation about suicide, but we are not seeing any movement in what is an unfortunate static annual figure,” she said.
The Mental Health Foundation says every death by suicide is a tragedy.
“Research shows that most people who attempt suicide don’t want to die – they just want their pain to end or can’t see another way out of their situation. Support from people who care about them, and connection with their own sense of culture, identity and purpose, can help them to find a way through,” said the foundation’s Moira Clunie.
People all have a role in recognising when loved ones are going through hard times, and reaching out to those who may be struggling, she said.
“If someone has thoughts or feelings about suicide, it’s important to take them seriously.”
* Male suicides at 428 is the highest number since these statistics began but by rate, at 18.96 per 100,000, is the third-highest since 2007
* A drop in the number of female suicides from 144 last year to 136, which is the second lowest figure
* The highest number of suicides was the 20-24-year-old group
* Male suicides made up 75.8 per cent of the total suicides for the year
* The Maori suicide total, at 130 deaths, and rate, at 21.74 per 100,000, are the highest since the provisional statistics were first recorded in 2007.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline’s 24-hour telephone counselling service on 13 11 14