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Young NZ men's suicide rate highest in OECD

Published: 2:31PM Tuesday April 24, 2012 Source: ONE News

  • Depression (Source: Photos.com)
    Depression - Source: Photos.com

The suicide among young males in New Zealand is the highest in the OECD, according to figures released today.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said it was "disappointing" New Zealand's male youth suicide rate was still the highest, despite it falling from a high of 44 per 100,000 in 1995 to 29 per 100,000 in 2009.

But he said the figures need to be looked at with caution and the high ranking could be due to differences in reporting in other countries.

"Stigma, cultural and social issues in some countries mean there is a real reluctance to report deaths as suicides," Dunne said.

He said there were also differences in what countries class as a suicide, while some countries were reporting on different time frames.

"Nonetheless we take each and every such death as a tragedy and the Government is totally committed to addressing suicide," Dunne said.

The figures for 2009, the most recent year available, show New Zealand's overall suicide rate dropped slightly from the previous year, from 11.8 per 100,000 in 2008, to 11.2 in 2009.

Dunne was also concerned that the latest data is three years old, which he said was due to some coroners' investigations taking years to complete.

"That is being improved. We expect to be able to release the 2010 figures later this year. Working with more current data will enable us to better target our efforts in addressing suicide."

Dunne said the Government was "totally committed" to addressing suicide.

The 2009 number was 26% below the peak rate in 1998.

"We have a significant youth suicide issue, particularly among young men, and that is why the Government is investing $62 million over four years in the Prime Minister's Youth Mental Health Project announced earlier this month," he said.

"Depression is a leading risk factor in suicide and this package works across government agencies to develop a collaborative approach."

Dunne said the Government was also developing a new suicide prevention action plan between different agencies.

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