Costs of suicide
When people kill themselves, or try to kill themselves, it affects their family, friends and workmates. It also costs millions of dollars each year in terms of police, coroners, victim support and health care.
In the early 21st century around 500 New Zealanders died by suicide every year. New Zealand’s suicide rate was average internationally, but high compared to other developed countries, especially for those aged under 30. The rate of suicide among young Māori was particularly high.
New Zealand’s suicide rate peaked in the late 1990s. In 2015 there were 525 suicide deaths, a rate of 11 per 100,000 people. Male suicide rates were 2.5 times those for females. The youth rate was higher than other age groups. The rate for Māori (16.5 per 100,000) was higher than any other ethnic group. Those living in the poorest areas of New Zealand had the highest rates of suicide (twice those in the most well-off areas).
Why do people kill themselves?
The reasons why people kill themselves can include:
- mental illness
- loneliness and social isolation
- romantic or marital problems
- family difficulties
- lack of work or money
- serious physical illness
- alcohol and/or drug problems.
Most people who have these problems do not kill themselves.
Society used to try to prevent suicide by making laws against it. Since the 1980s there have been many programmes and strategies aimed at reducing the suicide rate. These include providing support to at-risk people, and programmes to reduce prejudice and strengthen individuals and communities. There are limits to what the media can report about suicides.