Understanding suicide in Aotearoa New Zealand
Tragically suicide in Aotearoa is an area of concern and is a significant issue for New Zealand hapori communities. Although rates did decrease with the growing population, rates have started to increase as has a change in those most likely to take their own lives. Every year approximately 500 people in New Zealand take their own lives, with many more attempting suicide or experiencing levels of distress that places them at high risk of suicide affecting the lives of many others. New Zealand suicide facts - statistical and dataset - can be found at the Ministry of Health.
Suicide is a serious health and social issue. Suicide rates are a sign of the mental health and social well-being of the population. Suicide is the act of intentionally killing oneself. In New Zealand, the classification of a death as suicide is based on a coroner’s findings.
The causes of suicide are complex. Many factors have been found to be associated with suicide, such as deprivation, coming from an abusive family background, issues relating to sexual identity or experiencing a recent stressful life event. Suicidal behaviours and the factors that are associated with them are frequently linked to mental health problems.
Many factors influence a person’s decision to attempt suicide. Suicide prevention initiatives generally aim to promote protective factors and reduce risk factors for suicide, and improve the services available for people in distress.
Suicide is not the same thing as self-harm. People can harm themselves in different ways but not want to end their life. Sometimes people who self-harm do wish to end their life. Other people who self-harm have no thoughts of wanting to die.
To prevent suicide in New Zealand, it is vital that everyone – individuals, families, whānau, communities, employers, the media and government agencies – work together to promote protective factors and reduce risk factors known to influence suicide. No single initiative or organisation can prevent suicide on its own.
Ministry of Health
We recommend you review the information below from the Ministry of Health to gain a stronger and wider understanding on:
- Protective and risk factors for suicide
- Suicide rates in New Zealand
- Terms used in suicide prevention.
Coronial Services of New Zealand
This website will give you an overview of what you can expect to happen when a death is referred to a coroner. The police must report every suspected suicide to the coroner. If it seems that the person took their own life, there has to be a coroner’s inquiry. Most suicide inquiries are completed in chambers by the coroner (called a hearing on papers), without an inquest. If there is an inquest it will probably be open to the public. Anyone may come, including the media.
In New Zealand, a death is only classified as suicide by the coroner on completion of the coroner’s inquiry. In some cases, an inquest may be heard several years after the death, particularly if there are factors relating to the death that need to be investigated first (for example, a death in custody). Consequently, a provisional suicide classification may be made before the coroner reaches a verdict.
The Chief Coroner releases national provisional suicide statistics each year to help suicide prevention efforts and initiatives undertaken by other agencies.
Making information on suicide public. Limited information is allowed to be reported, broadcast or posted on the internet without the coroner’s permission. Recently, the law about suicide reporting changed to allow more information to be published. Only limited information is allowed to be reported, broadcast or posted on the internet without the coroner’s permission.