This annual statistical publication presents suicide information received from the New Zealand Mortality Collection, and admissions to hospital for intentional self-harm sourced from the New Zealand National Minimum Dataset.
Suicide and suicidal behaviours continue to be a major public health issue in New Zealand. Every year more than 500 New Zealanders take their lives and there are over 2,500 admissions to hospital for serious self-harm. These are not just numbers; they may be our friends, our neighbours, our work colleagues or our family members. Every suicide or act of intentional self-harm is an indication of profound emotional distress. The impact on family, friends and communities can be devastating, far reaching and long lasting. But suicide is preventable.
The purpose of this report is to present numbers, trends and demographic profiles of people who die by suicide or seriously harm themselves. Understanding this data is important for policy makers, clinicians and others who work to prevent suicide and intentional self-harm.
It is important to recognise that the motivation for intentional self-harm varies, and therefore hospitalisation data for self-harm is not a measure of suicide attempts.
Although this report provides statistical suicide and intentional self-harm hospitalisation data, it does not attempt to explain causes of suicidal behaviour or causes of changes to suicide or intentional self-harm hospitalisation rates. Nor does it discuss measures to reduce suicide or intentional self-harm.
Numerous factors influence a person’s decision to take their own life or to self-harm. The number of suicides and self-harm hospitalisations can also vary considerably from year to year. It is therefore difficult to quantify the precise effect that programmes such as suicide prevention-related initiatives and significant events, for instance the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes in the Canterbury region, have on suicide and suicidal behaviour.
Suicide prevention in New Zealand is guided by the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy 2006–2016 and the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2013–2016. Suicide Facts and other annual data updates assist in monitoring and evaluating the progress and success of implementing the strategy and action plan.