Mental Health & Addiction Update - 21 August 2020

on 24 August

Mental Health & Addiction Update

Kia ora whānau

Toni Gutschlag

I’m standing in for Robyn Shearer this week as she’s taking a well-deserved break.

The annual suicide statistics have been released by the Chief Coroner today, which show the provisional suicide rate is at its lowest in three years.

In the year to 30 June 2020, 654 people died by suicide, compared to 685 the year before – a decrease of 31 deaths, and a drop in the suicide rate from 13.93 deaths per 100,000 to 13.01.

Director of the Suicide Prevention Office, Carla na Nagara has released a statement asking that speculation about suicide numbers stops, now that there are facts available. 

“Inaccurate, speculative and distressing information about the relationship between suicide risk and the COVID-19 response is unhelpful and has the potential to cause significant harm.  While the COVID-19 response may have significant, long term effects on people’s lives, an increase in suicides is not inevitable,” said Carla na Nagara.

“There have been speculative comments on a wide range of platforms on media and social media of suicide numbers over recent months.  This is distressing for families and communities, can be triggering for vulnerable people and further stretches the people who are working hard to provide support.  We need to make sure that we are dealing with only the facts and remember that the Chief Coroner is the sole authority on real-time data for suspected suicides.

“While it is encouraging to see that the number of suspected suicides over the course of the year is lower than the past two years, there is no conclusion to be drawn from this.  We must also remember that behind every one of these numbers is a person and families.  My deepest condolences go out to those who have lost a loved one as a result of suicide over the past year.

“Every single one of us has a role to play in suicide prevention.  It’s up to all of us. 

You can read the full statement on our website and find the statistics on the Ministry of Justice website.

With the resurgence of COVID-19 in Auckland, we are hearing from a number of you that there is a need to communicate more broadly about what help is available and where. For those providing services or who have communication channels for promoting where to get help, there is a list below of national support that is available. Please try to keep promoting ways to take care of your mental wellbeing and where to get help it if is needed in your communities.

It's totally normal to feel a bit anxious or uncertain right now. We know how to respond in the different alert levels, there is a national psychosocial plan in place and we all know how to contribute to this to support mental health and wellbeing.

We have done it once, and we can do it again.

Ngā mihi nui

Toni Gutschlag

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