NZ Statistics on Attempted Suicide

Depression is a significant indicator of suicide risk. Anyone can reach the end of their tether if their situation is sufficiently distressing, or they have been depressed long enough.
  • People need to be shown that they are not alone and encouraged to speak about their feelings.
  • Men especially, link their self-esteem to their job and can become very depressed at retirement or redundancy.
  • Some people try to blot out their internal anxieties and depression with alcohol and drugs, which compounds the problem.
  • Whenever we share our positivity with someone else, we increase its power. When we share our negativity, we decrease its power.
  • Although depression is quite common, many people do not go to their doctor about it.
From 2000/01, psychiatric hospital discharges that were previously excluded from the data were included, greatly increasing the number of discharges recorded.

Statistics of people attempting suicide (collected from mid-year to mid-year)

All ages:
  • The hospitalisation rate for intentional self-harm in 2001/02 was 128.2 cases per 100,000 population, compared with 129.2 cases per 100,000 population in 2000/01, 95.7 per 100,000 in 1999/2000, 92.9 per 100,000 in 1998/1999, and 94.8 per 100,000 in 1997. In 2001/02, there were 5095 hospitalisations for self-inflicted injury.
  • In 2001/02 the male hospitalisation rate for intentional self-harm was 1721 cases (86.8 cases per 100,000 population). 
  • In 2001/02 the female hospitalisation rate for intentional self-harm was 3374 cases (169.3 cases per 100,000 population).
  • More females are hospitalised for intentional self-harm than males. The female-to-male rate ratio for intentional self-harm in New Zealand was 1.95 female hospitalisations to every male hospitalisation per 100,000 population. Females more commonly choose methods such as self-poisoning, which generally are not fatal but are still serious enough to require hospitalisation.
  • Among Ma-ori, the hospitalisation rate for intentional self-harm was 719 cases (116.6 cases per 100,000 population). The hospitalisation rate for Ma-ori females for intentional self-harm was 420 cases (132.1 cases per 100,000 population) compared to 299 cases (100.6 cases per 100,000 population) for Ma-ori males.
  • Among non-Ma-ori, the hospitalisation rate for intentional self-harm was 4376 cases (129.8 cases per 100,000 population). The hospitalisation rate for non-Ma-ori females for intentional self-harm was 2954 cases (176.7 cases per 100,000 population) compared to 1422 cases (82.7 cases per 100,000 population) for non-Ma-ori males.
Youth (15-24 years):
  • People in the 20–24 years age group had the highest hospitalisation rate for intentional self-harm (300.5 cases per 100,000 population, 771 cases).
  • For males, the age group with the highest hospitalisation rate for intentional self-harm (209.4 cases per 100,000 population, 269 cases) was the 20–24 years age group.
  • For females, the age group with the highest hospitalisation rate for intentional self-harm (428.4 cases per 100,000 population, 584 cases) was the 15–19 years age group.
  • Ma-ori in the 20(24 years age group had the highest hospitalisation rate for intentional self-harm (298.9 cases per 100,000 population, 144 cases).
  • For Ma-ori males, the age group with the highest hospitalisation rate for intentional self-harm (310.6 cases per 100,000 population, 67 cases) was the 25–29 years age group.
  • For Ma-ori females, the age group with the highest hospitalisation rate for intentional self-harm (321.7 cases per 100,000 population, 79 cases) was the 20–24 years age group.

Problems with the accuracy of suicide attempt data
It is important to be cautious about interpretation of suicide attempt data.

We don't have accurate data on all suicide attempts because records are only kept on those who are admitted to hospital as inpatients or day patients. Data is not collected nationally on people treated in Accident and Emergency (A&E) as outpatients, nor people treated by GPs, nor those who do not seek medical treatment. Also, changing treatment practices make comparisons across years difficult. For example, improving treatments for overdose has meant that more people can be treated on an outpatient basis, and will not appear in hospitalisation suicide attempt figures. The suicide attempt figures (above) are for self-inflicted injury and may include cases of deliberate self-harm where the intent was not death. Hospitalisation figures include people who are admitted more than once during that year, and also include those who died while in hospital. The relationship between suicide and attempted suicide
People who have already made one suicide attempt are at greater risk of dying by suicide, so it is important that such people get effective follow-up support and treatment.

In 2002, New Zealand’s all-age suicide rates for males and females were the sixth highest among OECD countries with comparable data.

Source: http://www.nzhis.govt.nz/stats/suicidefacts3.html
(This information is also available as a 184K PDF file.)

Commentary
An expert counsellor, Margaret Mourant writes that there are usually several suicide attempts for every one successfully “completed”. It is a mistake to view attempts as something done to gain attention.

Every attempt is a cry for help and when help is denied or is unavailable, the desperation increases and further attempts may follow.

Most people who commit suicide have made previous attempts. They are ambivalent about wanting to die and retain some small hope, however bad they feel. They give the community, one, two, or three chances to help before all hope dies.

Men tend to plan their suicide more carefully and choose methods like hanging or shooting, that are invariably fatal. Unlike women, they tend to bottle things up and not share their sense of failure.

People who attempt suicide tend to end up in local Accident and Emergency wards. It is important that after any wounds are patched up, the patient is referred on for proper counselling, rather than just discharged into the night and returned to the same problems that drove them to attempt suicide in the first place.