NZ statistics unknown for suicidal patients rejected from care

By Talisa Kupenga
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The New South Wales Mental Health Minister has ordered a review into the case of a 28-year old Māori man who died earlier this year. Joshua Nixon took his life after a hospital mental health facility turned him away for the long weekend and after nearly a week without professional help. But how many other New Zealanders have faced this problem and done the same?

When it comes to NZ suicide rates, Māori still lead the statistics. They were nearly a quarter of the 565 suicides recorded last year.

Chief Executive of Te Rau Matatini, Marama Parore told Te Kāea, "It makes me weep. It is difficult to understand what's happening in the system when people are accessing acute services and what the impact on them and their whanau and their community is."

This is the highest number since the provisional statistics were first recorded in 2007/2008. But how many of these people sought help before committing suicide?

Parore says, "I just wouldn't have any idea of that number and I don't know where you'd find that information."

Te Kāea asked the Ministry of Health for information in relation to:

  • How many people seek help prior to committing suicide?
  • How many are turned away from services and why?
  • The number of premature discharges that result in suicide?
  • How many people return for more help at a later date?

They told us they don't collect that information.

"That's almost impossible to count. What we know is that we haven't collectively made a difference to the numbers they are persistent and it's not ok the only way we are going to fix this is by working together in a much more determined manner to strengthen our communities," Parore said.

Director of Mental Health and MOH spokesperson Dr. John Crawshaw says the Ministry holds high-level data in its national data collections, provided by all of the 20 District Health Boards, and that DHBs held more detailed information as they are responsible for providing the services

If you are concerned about someone who may need help, please contact Lifeline 0800 543 534 or Suicide Crisis Helpline 0508 TAUTOKO.

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