New Zealand: Male Suicide up 10%

The number of male suicides in New Zealand rose by more than 10% in 2016/2017 according to provisional figures from the Chief Coroner.

Suicide now kills nearly 12 people a week in New Zealand, an average of nine men and three women.

A total of 457 males killed themselves in 2016/2017, up from 409 the previous year, while number of female suicides fell from 170 to 149 in the same period.

Men over 85 have the highest rate of suicide, while men in their twenties account for nearly a quarter of all male suicides.

The risk of suicide amongst Maori communities is around 50% higher than the rest of the population and accounts for more than one in five suicides in New Zealand.

The gender gap is narrower in the Maori population with men and boys being twice as likely to die by suicide than women in girls. In the rest of the population men account for 78% of suicides, making them nearly four times more likely to take their own lives.

While the Chief Coroner’s provisional statistics don’t report the number of suicides that are associated with different situational factors, such as relationship breakdown, they do record employment status.

Nearly 60% of people who die by suicide in New Zealand were not in employment. Of these, one in four people who took their own lives were unemployed; one in nine were retired and one in eleven were students.

Responding to the announcement, Matthew Tukaki, a Maori businessman and Chair of the National Coalition for Suicide Prevention in Australia said:

“We are nowhere near to solving the problem. Males and Maori are looming large in the data once more. We need to recognise we have different groups fight different demons for different reasons.

“We have to understand what those are and resources need to be targeted towards those people fighting whatever demons in that demographic and that includes making sure we do not forget about middle-age white males, Maori and in particular young people.

“This tough exterior and this bravado that we have, particularly as men, we need to start pulling that down. Not to the point where masculinity is under threat, but we need to have a conversation about societal and attitudinal change and we also need to open our ears [and listen].”

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