Coroner launches web tool for suicide stats
The number of suspected suicide deaths in recent months have decreased, according to the latest figures from the Chief Coroner.
In the year to June 30, 2021, 607 people died by suspected suicide, compared to 628 the year before – a decrease of 21 deaths, and a drop in the suspected suicide rate from 11.8 deaths per 100,000 to 11.6.
For the first time, the Office of the Chief Coroner and the Ministry of Health will make available combined suicide statistics via a new interactive web tool providing a single comprehensive source of information on deaths by suicide in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Developed by the Ministry of Health in consultation with the Office of the Chief Coroner, the web tool provides detailed information from the Chief Coroner on the provisional suspected self-inflicted death statistics, and the latest confirmed suicide data from the Ministry of Health.
Information is presented by both calendar and financial year, and can be filtered by gender, age group, ethnicity and District Health Board.
“This web tool provides an easily navigable platform to access accurate, detailed information on deaths in these tragic circumstances. It also provides the ability to compare provisional and confirmed figures over time for people to better understand how these numbers are shifting,” says Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall.
She says there have been 21 fewer deaths this year when compared to the previous year.
“Understanding what a change in numbers and rates from one year to the next means is difficult because these numbers and rates can fluctuate considerably,” says Judge Marshall.
“But it is heartening to see that the year’s figures show fewer deaths overall.”
Among Māori populations there was a decrease in suspected suicides from 19.8 per 100,000 people to 15.8, but for Pacific populations there was an increase in the suspected suicide rate from 7.2 to 9.6.
More broadly, there was a decrease in suspected suicides for females and males in the 15-24 age range, from 12.6 to 11.4 among females and 22.7 to 22.2 in males.
“The suspected suicide rate and number has declined, which is encouraging. But it’s important to remember the many families who have lost someone, and I offer my sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who died by suspected suicide in the past year,” says Judge Marshall.
Director of the Suicide Prevention Office, Carla na Nagara, also acknowledges the tragedy reflected in the data and says it will take more than two years of decreases to establish a trend.
“While it is encouraging that the numbers of suspected suicides are lower than last year, there are still far too many whānau, families and communities who have lost loved ones, and I extend my deepest sympathies to them,” says na Nagara.
It is the second consecutive year numbers have decreased, but na Nagara says the evidence shows there is a need to see a decline over at least a five-year period before a meaningful downward trend in suicide numbers and rates can be established.
“The Suicide Prevention Office will continue its efforts, alongside the Chief Coroner and communities all around Aotearoa, to address the complex issues that contribute to our suicide rates. We all have a part to play to prevent similar deaths from occurring.”
National’s Mental Health and Suicide Prevention spokesperson Matt Doocey says with the release of the Chief Coroners’ Annual Suicide Statistics, we remember the 607 people who lost their lives to suicide over the past year.
“For those who have lost a loved one to suicide, my heart goes out to you and your family. My thoughts are with you.
“Our suicide statistics are confronting. As a country we need to do better.
“As a founding member of the Cross-Party Mental Health Group I was proud to be part of producing and debating in Parliament our first report ‘Zero Suicide Aotearoa’.
“By adopting a Zero Suicide strategy and taking a bi-partisan approach to suicide prevention, Parliament can play its part in reducing New Zealand’s high suicide numbers.
“There is no reason why New Zealand can’t have one of the lowest suicide rates in the world, there is no reason why we can’t have one of the lowest rates of mental illness in the world, and there is no reason why as a country we can’t have one of the highest rates of mental wellbeing.”
Explore the interactive web tool here: https://minhealthnz.shinyapps.io/suicide-web-tool/