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Saturday 10 October 2015

Suicide statistics higher than ever before

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News staff - 8th October 2015

The latest suicide statistics released by Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall reveal the highest number of deaths since records began in 2007.


In the year ending July 2015, 563 deaths were recorded as suicide in New Zealand, 34 more deaths than in 2013/14.

While the statistics show men and youth are the most at risk groups, Moira Clunie of the Mental Health Foundation says national suicide statistics don’t refer to sexual and gender minorities. This is despite their higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours and the link between this and higher rates of social exclusion and discrimination.

The reason for this is that information about sexuality and gender identity is not routinely collected by Coroners when they are investigating suicide deaths.

She says while it is difficult to pinpoint the rise in deaths this year, “research is clear that higher rates of suicidal thoughts and behaviours in the queer and trans communities are linked with social exclusion and discrimination.”

OUTLine General Manager, Trevor Easton says the support organisation receives a high volume of calls from those who feel “isolated, alone and frequently rejected from family or friends because of their sexuality or preferred gender and that number is increasing.”

A recent report shows that the number of incoming calls to the service have doubled this year.

Concerned with the effectiveness of suicide prevention work in and around the LGBT communities Easton says as a community he believes we are talking about the issue more, looking for better ways to support people who have suicidal feelings.

“The main thing is getting information out to the community and letting these people in need know that there are people who care about them and how they can get the support they need and they are not alone. Having more available face to face counselling available for people who have no money would be very helpful.”

Clunie also believes that talking about suicide prevention is key, while recognising the important work that is currently undertaken, she says; “All the great advocacy and education work that’s being done to change social attitudes and structures is part of suicide prevention.”

“I think there’s a need for more talk about suicide prevention – about what we can all do to help ourselves and each other. We’ve seen more public discussion about suicide in the last few years, but often this focuses on the tragic reality that we lose more than 500 people to suicide each year in New Zealand. We need to recognise that suicide can be preventable, and to talk about how we can support people who are struggling, and to make the world more supportive so that people don’t get to the point where they feel that taking their own lives is their only option.”

If this story raises issues and you need to talk, there is ALWAYS help out there. Please call OUTLine on 0800 OUTLINE, or Rainbow Youth on (09) 376 4155. After hours you can call Lifeline's 24-hr Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 TAUTOKO (82 88 65).

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