Support For Sufferers Sees Suicide Rate Subside

Support For Sufferers Sees Suicide Rate Subside

The rate of suicides in the Dunedin city area have decreased over the last five years. A report obtained from the Coronial Services unit under an Official Information Act request has shown the number of suicides dropped between 2010 and 2015.

The coroner’s report shows the rate of suicides in Dunedin has decreased by nearly 50 percent annually. There was sixteen suicides in 2010 to 2011 compared to nine in the 2014 to 2015 period. The years 2011 and 2012 recorded thirteen and fourteen deaths respectively followed by a significant decrease in 2014 to seven.

A report released in October of 2015 showed that the number of suicides referred to the New Zealand Coroners was at an all-time high since the recording begun in 2007. The recent report, specifically focused on the Dunedin City area would suggest suicide rates are significantly lower compared with the rest of the country.

Despite the comparatively lower statistic in Dunedin, Labour’s Associate Spokesperson for Health David Clark says that suicide rates are still “way too high”. Dr Clark pointed to Government funding of mental health as a concern for suicide rates.

“I have people regularly coming into my office drawing attention to inadequacies in the system who have experienced tragedies.

“Funding from central government for mental health has dropped as the responsibility has been devolved to the community level without funding following. I think until we see mental health and suicide become a priority we will see suicide rates that are too high” says Dr Clark.

However, Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman has contended that mental health is a priority for the Government. In a recent press release Dr Coleman said a number of initiatives have been started including one specifically targeting suicides.

“Mental health issues affect a large number of New Zealanders. Providing a quality and timely mental health service has been a priority for this Government,” says Dr Coleman.

“We’ve put a number of initiatives in place to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders, including Rising to the Challenge, the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project, and the Suicide Prevention Action Plan.” 

The manager for Student Support for the University of Otago Philippa Keaney believes the Government is "genuinely concerned about suicide in New Zealand. I think the fact that we’re having more conversations probably suggests that we are being more transparent about it as an issue societally. 

This article first appeared in Issue 3, 2016.
Posted 11:17am Sunday 13th March 2016 by Henry Napier.