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 under 30. The rate of suicide among young Māori was particularly high.
New Zealand’s suicide rate peaked in the late 1990s, but has slowly dropped since then. In 2015 there were 525 suicide deaths, a rate of 11 per 100,000. Male suicide rates were 2.5 times the rates for female suicide. The youth rates tended to be higher than other age groups. Rates for Māori (16.5 per 100,000) were higher than any other ethnic group. Those living in the most deprived areas within New Zealand had the highest rates of suicide (twice as high as those living in the least deprived areas).
The reasons why people kill themselves are complex, but can include:
- mental illness
- loneliness and social isolation
- romantic or marital problems
- family difficulties
- lack of work or money
- serious physical illness
- alcohol and drug problems.
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 controls on media reporting details about suicides.