by Greta Yeoman
Nine South Canterbury residents died by suicide in the last year, a report from the coroner’s office shows.
The annual provisional suicide findings from the chief coroner reported that 685 New Zealanders died by suicide between July 1, 2018 and June 30 this year.
Nine of them were from the South Canterbury District Health Board region.
Of the 685 New Zealanders who died by suicide in the past year, 498 of them were male and the largest age group at risk were aged 20-24, accounting for 91 deaths.
“The truth is there is always another option [than suicide], there are people you can speak to. There’s something more to live for.”
– Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall
The second largest at-risk age group was those aged 25-29 (75 deaths).
There were 73 New Zealanders aged 15-19 who took their lives in the past year, as well as 11 children aged 11-14.
Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall said she extended her “condolences to the families and friends of those who died by suicide in the past year”.
“We acknowledge the pain many communities are feeling as a result.”
Ethnically, the Maori suicide rate now sits at 28.2 deaths per 100,000 population, up from 16.8 deaths per 100,000 people in 2008/09.
169 Maori took their lives in the past year.
This compares to about 13.6 deaths per 100,000 for those “European and other” (which includes African, European, Middle Eastern and New Zealand European).
The Asian suicide rate is 7.6 deaths per 100,000 population, and about 11.5 for Pasifika.
Ms Marshall said there were “numerous” reasons why people chose to take their lives.
Where to get help
If you are worried about your own or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call the police immediately on 111.
Or if you need to talk to someone else:
0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202
It could depend on many factors, including their mental health, their early life experiences at home and school, their employment and economic status, their health, sense of belonging and purpose and more, she said.
“It’s up to all of us to look out for our family, friends and neighbours, to ask how they’re going and coping with pressures in life, and offer our support, to offer hope.”
“Because there is hope.”
She said she was “encouraged” by suicide prevention initiatives, as well as stories of people who had battled with suicidal thoughts and come out the other side.
There were 13.9 deaths per 100,000 population this year.
While this is lower than the 15.1 deaths per 100,000 population high recorded in 1998, the number of suicides in New Zealand has been increasing since 2016.
The country’s suicide rate had sat around 12 deaths per 100,000 people for the past decade, until increasing to 13.6 deaths last year.
Ms Marshall said it was necessary for those struggling to remember suicide did not have to be how their story ended.
“We mourn those who died by suicide, but for those listening who are in the midst of pain, suicide doesn’t have to be how your story ends. The truth is there is always another option, there are people you can speak to. There’s something more to live for.”