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More opportunities for suicide work: study

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/06/2016

WELLINGTON June 2 NZN - More widespread efforts - perhaps by police, Corrections, CYFs and the farming and construction industries - could be made to help curb New Zealand's high suicide rates, says the feasibility committee set up to look into the problem.

The Suicide Mortality Review Committee, which started work in 2014, has released its first report after looking closely at 1797 of the 2530 suicides in the five years between 2007 and 2011.

While lamenting the short time frame it had to work in, the findings exceeded expectation and it recommends more government funding to develop ways of preventing self-inflicted deaths.

The study looked at three main groups: young Maori, mental health service users and working age men.

"There are still some clear gaps in our knowledge," said Health, Quality and Safety Commission chairman Alan Merry.

"However, there are already clear indications that intervention opportunities exist for frontline staff in the various agencies involved with the people concerned in the weeks and months before their death."

The study highlighted the need for expanding public health and multi-agency approaches to suicide prevention, says committee chairman Rob Kydd.

"Many of those who died by suicide had previous contact with Child, Youth and Family, New Zealand Police and the Department of Corrections.

"Although many had accessed mental health services at some point, just as many had not - people who may have suffered major difficulty and distress."

The committee said the study confirmed what was already known about suicides in New Zealand, but also revealed new insights:

* There was an opportunity for suicide prevention efforts when Maori and working-age men came into contact with police and the Department of Corrections

* A large number of Maori who committed suicide had experienced adversity when young, such as violence, sexual abuse, bereavement or relationship problems

* 30 per cent of working-age male suicides were unemployed, and the construction, trade, farm and forestry industries appeared to have high numbers.

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