Maori Council slams Government over latest suicide statistics: The Minister is wasting all of our time
Suicide data released by New Zealand’s Chief Coroner in 2018 is a telling story of the impact of suicide on Maori. 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 latest provisional data released by the Ministry of Health is telling - The data shows 553 people died by suicide in 2016, the highest number of suicides in New Zealand between 2007-2016.
It was up from 529 in 2015, and 510 in 2014.
Males were the most represented in the figures, with 412 committing suicide in 2016, compared to 141 females.
Numbers for Maori were also high, with 135 deaths - 99 of which were male.
The rate of Maori who died by suicide was 20.3 per 100,000, with non-Maori at 9.5 per 100,000.
Young people aged 15-24 had the highest rate of suicide, with 16.8 per 100,000, while the rate among people aged 25-44 was 16.3 per 100,000.
The Ministry of Health says overall the rate of suicides remained relatively stable in this 10-year period.
The suicide rate decreased from 12.3 per 100,000 in 2007, to 11.3 per 100,000 in 2016.
The numbers of deaths by suicide in New Zealand are beyond unacceptable and it is time both the previous Government admitted it failed New Zealanders during its nine years in office and that the current Government is at risk of failure by following the same path.” Said Matthew Tukaki, Executive Director of the New Zealand Maori Council and former Chair of Suicide Prevention Australia.
“The data that has been released today is actually one of the indicators of how far we have to go. First of all the data is not timely and fails to give us the detailed analysis we need to better understand what is happening and across what population groups. Secondly there is still no national suicide prevention strategy or plan – let’s face it; that ran out in 2016 and three years on we still have nothing,” Tukaki said
“A lot of people ask me about the wellbeing budget and how that investment is going to make a difference. My response is simply this – how will something make a difference when there is no structured or cohesive plan? How can you tell me all this funding is going to be available to fund what exactly? Let’s not mince words with this anymore – there is no plan and that stands in stark comparison to the fact our health and mental health systems are no longer fit for purpose in today’s New Zealand.” Tukaki said.
“When it comes to Maori the rates of suicide are on the increase. Its not that they have peaked – we are a long way from a peak. They have increased year on year for the last several years and the Government once again has no plan for our people and they seem to shy away from wanting to fund anything we put forward. They constantly say we are waiting for this or that Inquiry. Well; why this and the previous Government waited for Inquiry after report nothing changed and Maori are sick of it.” Tukaki said
“The truth is we need to start having conversations about full national health reform, mental health and suicide prevention and of this Minister doesn’t know how to do it then he needs to get off the bus.” Tukaki said
The New Zealand Maori Council has already made a range of recommendations to the Government on a pathway forward but, after a number of months, has still not had a response from the Minister.
“I say to the Minister check your email – because it seems as if you are just nothing more than a series of glib one liners.” Tukaki said