Provisional statistics show increasing number of suicide deaths in NZ

The annual provisional suicide statistics have been released and show that 579 people died by suicide in the 2015/16 year. This is the highest number of suicide deaths since the provisional statistics were recorded for the 2007/08 year. 

Last year's total was 564, which was then the highest total.

However, the suicide rate per 100,000 population for this year remains just lower than the 2010/11 year.

The rate of people dying by suicide has remained consistent and shows New Zealand still has a long way to go in turning this high total around. 

Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall says there needs to be more discussion about suicide prevention and how family, friends, and colleagues can identify someone at risk and help them get professional support. 

“Everyone should recognise the importance of taking suicidal thoughts seriously and knowing where to get help," she says.

This year's figures show:

Female suicides have increased by 34 compared to last year, while male suicides have dropped by 19. The ratio of female to male suicides is 1 : 2.41, which is the closest since records began in 2007/08. Traditionally the ratio sits at about 1 female: 3 male.

  • The 25-29-year-old age cohort recorded the highest number of suicide deaths (66), with the 20-24-year-old cohort behind on 60 suicide deaths. Last year the 20-24-year-old cohort had the highest number of suicide deaths with 61, followed by the 40-44-year-old cohort with 58 suicide deaths.
  • Māori suicide death numbers are down by one from last year with 129. Within this total, Māori male suicide has dropped by 10 from last year and accordingly Māori female is up by nine to 47, which is the highest number on record exceeding 38 Māori female suicide deaths in 2011/12 and 2013/14.
  • The Canterbury Region has recorded its highest suicide total since records began in 2007/08, with 78 deaths, compared with the previous highest total of 74 in 2009/10. (Please note – these figures are based on DHB geographic region, which were adopted several years ago as the standard regional boundaries for the provisional coronial suicide statistics. Christchurch statistics used in earlier releases were based on Police district boundary, which covers a slightly different geographical area, and the totals are slightly different).