Sad and shocking surge in suicide rate

There was a lot of angst expressed this week when the news of journalist and TV presenter Greg Boyed’s death became known.

It was obvious from reports that he had struggled with depression that he had ended his own life (sadly while on holiday overseas with his wife and young child).

As sad as this high profile death was, it was just a minor blip in our shocking and escalating suicide statistics.

Provisional annual suicide figures were released yesterday : 668 people died by suicide in the 2017/2018 year.

That’s nearly 13 people on average per week who take their own lives in New Zealand. and the trend is bad.

  • 2007/2008 – 540 deaths, 12.20 per 100,000
  • 2008/2009 – 531 deaths, 12.04 per 100,000
  • 2009/2010 – 541 deaths, 12.26 per 100,000
  • 2010/2011 – 558 deaths, 12.65 per 100,000
  • 2011/2012 – 547 deaths, 12.34 per 100,000
  • 2012/2013 – 541 deaths, 12.10 per 100,000
  • 2013/2014 – 529 deaths, 11.73 per 100,000
  • 2014/2015 – 564 deaths, 12.27 per 100,000
  • 2015/2016 – 579 deaths, 12.33 per 100,000
  • 2016/2017 – 606 deaths, 12.64 per 100,000
  • 2017/2018 – 668 deaths, 13.67 per 100,000

So that is an alarming rise over the last two years.

Chief Coroner releases provisional annual suicide figures

Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall today released the annual provisional suicide statistics, which show 668 people died by suicide in the 2017/18 year.

New Zealand’s suicide rate – the number of suicides per 100,000 population- is at the highest level since the provisional statistics were first recorded for the 2007/08 year and has increased for the fourth year in a row.

Judge Marshall says suicide continues to be a significant health and social problem in New Zealand.

“It’s a tragedy to see the number of self-inflicted deaths increase again. We need to keep talking about how to recognise the signs that someone may want to take their own life. If someone expresses thoughts and feelings about suicide, take them seriously.”

The 2017/18 annual provisional suicide statistics show:

  • Female suicides have increased by 44 compared to last year, while male suicides increased
    by 18. The ratio of female to male suicides is 1 : 2.46.
  • The age cohort with the highest number of suicides was the 20-24-year-old group, with 76
    deaths, followed by the 45-49-year-old group with 67 deaths.
  • The Maori suicide total (142 deaths) and rate (23.72 per 100,000) are the highest since the
    provisional statistics were first recorded for the 2007/08 year. Male Maori continue to be
    disproportionally represented in the provisional suicide statistics with 97 deaths last year.

“…the same comment is often repeated by Coroners. If you think someone is at risk, support
them to reach the appropriate services as soon as possible.”

Suicide Prevention

Most people who attempt suicide don’t want to die – they just want their pain to end or can’t see another way out of their situation. Support from people who care about them, and connection with their own sense of culture, identity and purpose, can help them to find a way through.

Information service

Through the Mental Health Foundation’s information service, we can link you to information about suicide prevention support available. Otherwise, if someone has attempted suicide, or you’re worried about their immediate safety, you can do the following:

  • Call your local mental health crisis assessment team or go with them to the emergency department (ED) at your nearest hospital.
  • If they are an immediate physical danger to themselves or others, call 111.
  • Stay with them until support arrives.
  • Remove any obvious means of suicide they might use, eg, guns, medication, car keys, knives, rope.
  • Try to stay calm and let them know you care.
  • Keep them talking: listen and ask questions without judging.
  • Make sure you are safe.


For more information about supporting yourself or someone else who is suicidal, we have developed a series of online factsheets:


I have also been given this information:


IntelliCare a suite of mobile apps that work together to target common causes of burnout, depression and anxiety like sleep problems, social isolation, lack of activity, and obsessive thinking.

These free apps are part of a nationwide research study funded by the National Institutes of Health in the USA.

People may download individual apps or the whole IntelliCare suite by clicking on the Intellicare logo.

Beating the Blues:

Beating the Blues has 8 free (to people in NZ) sessions which each last about 50 minutes. Beating the Blues is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

The amount of negativity and acrimony online could also be a problem. Try to be more positive, more constructive, and nicer.

Leave a comment


  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  25th August 2018

    Thought Coroners were supposed to analyze causes and recommend solutions?

  2. Kitty Catkin

     /  25th August 2018

    What if the person doesn’t HAVE anyone who cares ?

    Four people in a month were found dead weeks after they had died. These were natural causes, as far as I know, but it’s obvious that nobody cared enough to see why the lawn was kneehigh and the letterbox overflowing.

    • What sympathy the PDTs show; so like them to be so sorry about these dead people lying dead for weeks or dying in pain and terror, unable to reach a phone to call for help.

  3. Gezza

     /  25th August 2018

    I’ve looked at this thread all day and just thought what can I say that makes any bloody difference?

    We know it’s bad, and it’s getting worse. And there’s yet another working group looking at it.
    Everybody that bothers to offer an opinion on it, but as Alan seems to be saying whenever I’ve gone looking for any analyses of why – why – why? What do coroners know about the reasons for these deaths?

    There isn’t any.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  25th August 2018

      Obviously day to day Coroners just see individual cases but whatbis needed is sn overview and analysis of the whole picture. Has the misguided focus on secrecy prevented that research and analysis?

      • Or has the increased openness over the last few years been a cause of the increase?

        Difficult to know.

      • Gezza

         /  25th August 2018

        That’s what I’m thinking, Alan. We can offer opinions on it (not enuf mental health services, lonely people, work stress, financial stress, bullying – including social media bullying etc) – but there must be a lot of information in these coroners decisions by now.

        That stats alone don’t tell us anywhere near enough to know what can or should be done for what kind of cause.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  25th August 2018

          There are many people around with the telltale scars up their wrists that show that they have taken a razor blade or boxcutter and tried to end it all that way. Nobody has that sort of scar from an accident in the garden, The clue is that they go up and along the veins.

  4. Blazer

     /  25th August 2018

    suicide is the malaise of the modern Capitalist construct…

    Thats why so many military veterans check out…the thin veneer of justification is ripped away to expose the reality of mans inhumanity.


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