Rate of Suicides Declining, Concerns Still Loom Large

According to latest official figures released, the rate of suicides has declined to hit the lowest level seen since 1985, but the rates of male and Maori suicides are still high and a reason for concern.

The figures released by Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne, for the year 2007, which are the most recent available, show that in the year, 483 people took their own lives, a substantial fall from the figure of 526 recorded for the previous year.

"This is a positive outcome that represents several years of hard work. While we can be pleased with the result, we can't be complacent - too many people are devastated by the tragic loss of a loved one to suicide in New Zealand", Mr. Dunne said.

The report, released as Suicide Facts 2007, also revealed a 46.6% decline in youth suicide rates since the number had hit its peak in 1995. Male and Maori suicide rates, however, did pose some concern, with rate of male suicides 3.6 times higher than the figure recorded for women and the Maori rate stood at 16.1 deaths per 100,000 people.

Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand director Merry Statham said that the overrepresentation of "men in the statistics was a concern, as was the Maori suicide rate", while welcoming a drop in rate of youth suicides.