Maori even do suicide differently

As we know, Maori lead all the wrong statistics, and there is no exception when it comes to suicide.

Te Puni Kōkiri is providing just under $2m to 28 organisations nationwide to run rangatahi suicide prevention initiatives.

Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell says the projects are urgently needed given the high rates of Māori suicide.

“The suicide rates for our rangatahi are two and a half times higher than for non-Māori youth, so we need solutions that are tailored for Māori in the modern age.

A requirement of projects receiving funding is that rangatahi leadership must be central to their design, implementation and delivery.

Mr Flavell says there is currently a lack of strategy to address the alarming suicide rates, and too little research into how best to prevent rangatahi suicide.

“These are matters we will address with the interagency steering group tasked with updating the current New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy (2006-16) and overseeing the development of a new Action Plan,” he says.

$1.95m has been allocated to the projects across Aotearoa.

An evaluation that captures the critical success factors of the funded projects is expected to be completed by 2017, and will contribute to a body of knowledge about what works best in preventing rangatahi Māori suicide.

It must be pointed out that the nation’s social support and health system is accessible to Maori as well.  So whatever is spent on Pakeha suicide, Asian suicide, etc, is clearly sufficient.  

On top of that, Te Puni Kōkiri, the Maori-only tax payer trough, provides $2m over and above nationally available support and health system programmes surrounding suicide.

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With Maori clearly presenting the largest ethnic group when compared with all others combined, the question isn’t really about criticising Te Puni Kōkiri for “only” lumping in $2m, the question is if the general suicide prevention services are up to it.

Internationally, we’re not that badly off in the sense that we have similar rates to countries like Denmark, Iceland and Norway.  While we have much better stats than Japan, Belgium and Sweden.

There is a 5-8 per 100,000 deaths “background rate” internationally, So at best New Zealand’s rate it about 3-6 per 100,000 higher than what even the better countries can achieve.

Keeping in mind that our own rate is heavily slanted towards Maori suicides, New Zealand has one of the best rates in the world if you temporarily factor out Maori.

So focusing on Maori suicide seems entirely appropriate.  The question remains:  why are our general health system and support services unable to affect these deaths?


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

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