New Zealand Maori Council: National Suicide Rates for Maori a tragedy
August 24, 2018
The latest suicide data released by New Zealand’s Chief Coroner is a telling story of the impact of suicide on Maori. w 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. 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 Chair of New Zealand Maori Council, Taihakurei Durie, has said the figures are both distressing and of immense concern to all New Zealanders, Maori in particular:
“The data tells no lies. We have all witnessed first hand the devastation suicide brings to our whanau and communities and the mere fact that Maori are the highest single per head of population rate in the country and around the world is not a first we want. We must do more to bring these rates down and here at New Zealand Maori Council we believe we have a significant leadership role to play … “
Matthew Tukaki, Chairman of Auckland District New Zealand Council, is also Chairman of Suicide Prevention Australia who have been working in collaboration with the Australian Government, State and Territories to bring there suicide rate down in recent years:
“It is a national tragedy that the suicide data has been released in New Zealand that shows a significant increase - this is the data that we should all be turning our attention to and we MUST and need to have honest conversations about where we go as a nation - from here. We need to have honest conversations about the structure of services, the investment made, the reform of help seeking services, the state of DHB's and hospital system, post discharge and more. Now is the time to not only have these conversations but act, formulate real plans and methodically go about their implementation.” Mr Tukaki Said
“When it comes Maori we need to have a single national approach driven by Maori for Maori – where Maori have a say in what services they want and need – including how they should be delivered. These are times for the most honest of conversations…” Tukaki said
New Zealand Maori Council has begun the work of establishing that leadership role. A national sub-committee focussed on Maori Health and Well-Being has been established and will be led by respected Maori Health professional, Henare Mason. Membership of the committee will be drawn from Maori communities across the country not just mental health, health and well being professionals. An opportunity to give voice to every day Maori, whanau and communities when it comes to solutions.