More discussion needed around suicide prevention

By Heeni Brown
  • Auckland

Māori continue to have the highest suicide rate of all ethnic groups according to provisional suicide statistics released by the Chief Coroner.  

Māori psychologist Dr Pikihuia Pomare says there needs to be more discussion around preventative interventions. 

"There are so many people who agree that we need to start early like when a mother is pregnant. That's when we need to start practising family well-being and not leave it until the child has reached adolescence. We need to instil family values when they're a toddler, through to kōhanga and school, with the hope that when it gets hard, they're comfortable with getting help."

Annual statistics released today suggest Māori suicide deaths have risen from 129 to 130 for this year. Dr Pomare says leaders need to encourage more conversation around the matter.

"There is always a rock in every family and the main thing is that those pillars in our schools and Māori communities are communicating to our youth that they don't always need be so depressed and that there are resources and people available to talk to." 

According to the provisional stats, in the past year, a total of 606 people took their lives, 27 higher than last year's toll, New Zealand reaching its highest annual toll ever recorded.

"We need to look at these numbers very carefully and understand why people are turning to suicide. We know that most of the time there are drugs and alcohol involved and some form of depression growing up," says Dr Pomare.

Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall says it is also important for discussions around families to recognise someone at risk and ensure they get the professional help needed.