Response to provisional suicide data

This morning the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) is taking a moment to join all New Zealanders in mourning for the 607 people who have died by suspected suicide in the last year.
Found in: News / Statements
Date: 3 October 2021

Ruia te pō, ka ao, ka awatea
Moving from sorrow into the light

Today the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) is joining all New Zealanders in mourning the 607 people who have died by suspected suicide in the last year.

“We know behind this number are the stories of 607 people who leave behind devastated friends, whānau, colleagues and communities, and today we acknowledge their deep grief and pain and commit to continuing to work every day to prevent suicide in Aotearoa,” MHF chief executive Shaun Robinson says.

For the second year, both the overall suicide rate and number of suicides have decreased, and the Foundation is cautiously optimistic about this.

“While it’s difficult to see trends year-on-year, any decrease is welcomed,” Mr Robinson says. “We need to try to learn from the suicide prevention efforts that are working, while also seeking to learn from what has not worked and continue to do better.”

The Foundation is glad to see decreases in suicide rates for groups that have been of particular concern for many years, including Māori and young people.

Persistent rumours that lockdowns cause dramatic spikes in suicide rates and numbers should be quelled by today’s statistics. These rumours are dangerous and irresponsible, and should not be disseminated. They put vulnerable people at risk and cause unreasonable fear in our community.

New Zealanders are continuing to experience the effects of COVID-19, and the Foundation is aware many are experiencing the mental health effects of the pandemic.

“We are aware of increased levels of distress, especially in Auckland, where lockdown is taking its toll on the wellbeing of so many people,” Mr Robinson says. “But speculation that this will lead to increases in suicide is unfounded. Distress is a signal that we need to do more to look after each other, invest in wellbeing and take immediate action. But at the moment we have an opportunity to come together, work with a shared purpose and be a part of something bigger than ourselves. That boosts wellbeing and is protective against suicide and shouldn’t be discounted.”

The Foundation is grateful for the efforts of the many thousands of New Zealanders working every day to prevent suicide and improve mental health and wellbeing, particularly in this difficult time.

He murimuri aroha ki ngā taonga kua riro
Our deepest sympathy to loved ones.