Suicide trending down but greater focus on male and Maori suicide rates still needed
Figures released today show the youth suicide rate has declined by 46.6% since the peak in 1995. The overall rate of suicide has decreased 27.3% since the peak rate in 1998, continuing the downward trend observed over the last decade. However, the male suicide rate is over three times higher than that of women, and this over-representation continues to be an area of concern.
The figures, released by the Ministry of Health in Suicide Facts:Deaths and intentional self-harm hospitalisations 2007, relate to deaths in 2007, the most recent data available; 483 deaths by suicide were recorded that year, of which 370 were male.
"The reduction in youth suicide is encouraging but there is no room for complacency," Merryn Statham, Director of Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand (SPINZ) says. "There are many factors that can affect young people, such as a disruptive family life, relationship issues or acceptance of sexual orientation."
A particular area of concern is the rate of Maori suicide: 97 Maori people died by suicide in 2007. This shows a 19.1 decrease from the peak rate in 1998, but the rate for Maori continues to be significantly higher than for non-Maori. Per 100,000 population there were 16.1 Maori deaths in 2007, compared to 9.9 non-Maori, approximately 60 percent of the Maori rate.
"This disparity is unacceptable," Statham says. "In September, Te Whakauruora, a Maori suicide prevention resource, was launched and it's essential that we work to implement approaches that can really make a difference for Maori communities."
There was also a significant difference in rates between the most deprived areas and the least deprived - 13.3 deaths per 100,000 population compared to 7.7. Te Whakauruora is available to order through the Mental Health Foundation's online shop, Other suicide prevention information and resources are also available through SPINZ.
"Many suicides are preventable," Statham concludes. "Someone expressing suicidal thoughts needs to be taken seriously. Seek professional help or ring 111 if there is an immediate crisis."
Media enquiries to:
Mental Health Foundation
DDI: (09) 966 5725
Mobile: 021 918 220
Raeburn House will continue Learning and Development programmes
In 2010 Raeburn House will continue to provide a range of Groups, Workshops, and Seminars covering issues such as:
- Arts ... and other requests.
The new 2010 programme includes:
- Comprehensive Anger Management Programme
- Separation Support
- A Healthy You!
- Tangata Tiriti Workshop
- Fun Youth Programmes
For more information, please contact Luciana Santoso, phone: (09) 489 0543, fax: (09) 441 8988, or email: luciana "at" raeburnhouse.org.nz Learning & DevelopmentGroups, Workshops, and Seminars.
Mental Health Foundation responds to Dominion Post's suicide reporting criticisms
Suicide prevention Twitter feed launched
SPINZ now has a Twitter feed devoted to information on suicide prevention in New Zealand.
We intend to use Twitter to make an important contribution towards improving distribution of research and information on suicide prevention activities.
"The huge increase in popularity of social networking sites like Twitter is rapidly changing the way we access information," says Merryn Statham, Director of SPINZ.
"SPINZ has access to a wealth of quality data. Social networking platforms give us a vital opportunity for disseminating this information to a large and diverse audience, on a timely and regular basis."
The Twitter feed has been launched in the run-up to the SPINZ biennual symposium on September 10-11, Culture and Suicide Prevention in Aotearoa.
"Our programme reflects the huge amount of valuable work and research going on in the suicide prevention sector, and Twitter will allow us to draw attention to that for audiences that are unable to attend our symposium in person," Statham says.
In acknowledgment of the increasingly important role that Twitter is playing in breaking news coverage around the world, we will be providing regular updates via Twitter throughout our two-day symposium.
"Following the symposium, we will continue to use Twitter as part of our commitment to providing high quality information to promote safe and effective suicide prevention activities," Statham concludes.
The SPINZ Twitter feed can be found at www.twitter.com/suicidenz
Registrations are still open for the SPINZ symposium, which will focus this year on culturally appropriate suicide prevention approaches, suicide rates, risk and protective factors among MÄori, and safe practice in suicide prevention across cultures. Registration is free for media.
New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy 2006-16
Expanding the evidence about suicide rates, causes and effective interventions is one of seven goals in New Zealand's Suicide Prevention Strategy 2006-16. Two approaches in achieving this goal are improving the quality and timeliness of suicide data, and improving the dissemination of research and information.
There is evidence that some types of reporting of suicidal behaviour can result in an increase in suicides.
Kiwi journalist's experience of depression and losing a friend to suicide
It affects one in five New Zealanders and you might be surprised just who. Depression is something we don't want to talk about but it's expected to be the world's number two health burden within 10 years. Watch TVNZ's Sunday programme, Taming the Black Dog where veteran TV journalist Rob Harley reveals how he lost a friend because of depression and how it almost cost him his life. Where's the line between feeling sad and being clinically depressed?
Latest self-harm hospitalisation rates released
Young people aged 15 to 19 years old have the highest rates of intentional self-harm hospitalisations, and females are two times more likely to be hospitalised than males.
Intentional Self-Harm Hospitalisations 2007 (Provisional), published online today by the Ministry of Health, also shows 2678 people were admitted to hospitals for longer than 48 hours for intentional self-harm, compared with 3030 in 1996.
"This is consistent with the declining pattern over the past 11 years. Self-harm hospitalisation rates have dropped by 25.6% for the total population and 40.1% for those aged 15 to 24 years old since 1996," Mental Health Director Dr David Chaplow said.
Read more on the Minsitry's website
SPINZ Director in panel discussion about media suicide coverage, TVNZ 7
Suicide prevention workshops available
Living Works Aotearoa Suicide Prevention Education is running a series of workshops around the country in July, August, September and October. Find out what is happening in your region by visiting the MHF calendar, or contacting Pam on (09) 909 9207, or Chris on (09) 909 9211 or email chrisg "at" lifeline.org.nz
Skylight Trust worker helps those bereaved by suicide
Tricia Irving-Hendry's husband completed suicide, leaving her with three young children. She now works with Skylight Trust helping others who've experienced similar losses. Listen to the Kathryn Ryan interview Tricia on Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon, 9 July 2009.
The following letter to the editor from SPINZ Director Merryn Statham was printed 26 May Bay of Plenty Times, in response its series of articles on suicide, but also responding to an editorial that complained media was muzzled on issue of suicide.
We read your series of articles on suicide, published on May 9, with interest.
We would like to congratulate the Bay of Plenty Times for the interviews with a counsellor and those bereaved, which sensitively illustrated the profound impact of suicide on both the families and the wider community.
However, the editorial that accompanied these articles requires a response. The headline announced "it's time that we discussed suicide". It is time, rather, that we discussed suicide prevention and looked at the issue from a wider perspective. The editorial began by stating that "there is a plague tearing out the heart of New Zealand society".
While the impact of every suicide must be acknowledged, to put this comment in perspective, it is worth noting that suicide rates have actually decreased 19 percent since 1997.
The writer then states that the media is prevented from reporting details of self-inflicted deaths. Publishing a detailed account of how someone has died by suicide can be of no benefit to anyone. However, as your series of articles effectively demonstrated, the media is still able to publish a great deal of information about suicide and has a role to play in helping people understand the complexity of this important public health issue.
The editorial also mentions secrecy stemming from a "terror" of health professionals. All those involved in suicide prevention understand the risks involved and work to reduce those risks. If this "terror" serves to encourage others to respond appropriately to high risk situations, that is good news for those whanau and individuals who are kept safe.
Many journalists are now demonstrating a greater understanding of how their reporting of suicide can help with prevention. The issue is not about keeping silent but about providing targeted and appropriate information.
Finally, in response to the editorial conclusion that we should have a frank look at suicide and stop "hiding behind a veil of secrecy", we would direct you to a quote from the counsellor, Janet Baird, who you interviewed in one of your articles:
"It is not so much that suicide needs to be talked about more but, rather, what it is about our society that has so many people attempt suicide and what it is about our society that isn't helpful to those bereaved by suicide and what we can do about this."
Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand (SPINZ)
Postgraduate course: PSMX 429 Suicidal Behaviour, Research and Prevention 2009
Otago University, 30 points, 2nd semester
The postgraduate course in suicidal behaviours is being offered for the 4th successive year. It's the only postgraduate academic course in suicidal behaviours, research and prevention offered in New Zealand and has been designed to provide an introduction to suicidal behaviours.
The course is appropriate for those who work in education and counselling as well as for professionals in health, mental health, social services, emergency medicine, youth work, psychology, justice, child welfare and related fields.
More than 50 students have graduated from the course in the last 3 years: they are highly enthusiastic about it, as these testimonials show.
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"Loved having a variety of speakers highly regarded in their fields. I consider myself very lucky to have had lectures by them."
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The course will be offered as a block course (4 x 2-day sessions) to be held in Christchurch on 15-16 July, 12-13 August, 16-17 September and 14-15 October 2009.
For more in depth information and enquiry details open this flier.