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Suicide numbers up for Maori

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/01/2017

Suicide rates among the Maori population of New Zealand is 1.6 times higher than that of non-Maori, according to a recent study.

The suicide rate for Maori males aged 15-24 is twice that of non-Maori of the same age, and the suicide rate of all female Maori is five times higher than the non-Maori, according to the study, 'Changes in the age pattern of New Zealand suicide rates', by Professor John Snowdon.

However, the suicide rate among older-Maori is almost zero, bringing the average right down.

The study was published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, and shows suicide rates among the total Maori population has gone up 1.6 times in recent years.

Before the 1980s, suicide rates among Maori was almost at zero, but has progressively risen since then.

The study also shows that among men, the highest rates are those aged 20-24; in 2013, 21 per cent of male suicides in New Zealand were aged 15-24.

"The dramatic rise and fall of suicide rates of young adult males in New Zealand ... may well have been related to a changing incidence of mental perturbation, but maybe also be due to substance abuse, rather than being due to changes in prevalence of other mental disorders," Professor Snowdon said.

Female suicide rates remain relatively the same since the 1990s.

The rate of suicide of New Zealand men aged 60-79 is lower than all other age groups, and has fallen 50 per cent since the 1980s.

Around 28,000 people have committed suicide in New Zealand in the last 65 years.

Professor Snowdon said suicide arises from a number of complex factors, and the study displays a relatively huge variation in suicide rates.

However, the higher rate of gender difference in suicide cannot be explained.

He says suicide can not be attributed to a single stressor, but is more likely to be the result of a number of stressors, such as a mental disorder, and a distressing event such as unemployment, relationship failure, substance abuse and/or painful emotions.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline's 24-hour telephone counselling service on 0800 543 354.

Depression Helpline (8am to 12 midnight) - 0800 111 757

Healthline - 0800 611 116

Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz

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