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Chief coroner releases provisional annual suicide figures

A message from Dr Maree McCracken, GP liaison - mental health.

Last week chief coroner judge Deborah Marshall released the annual provisional suicide statistics, which show 668 people died by suicide in the 2017/18 year. It makes for sobering reading for those of us working in primary care, where the challenges of our poorly resourced mental health services are felt every day.

Behind the growing number of people who die by suicide in New Zealand lies a large number of friends, family and colleagues who are all devastated by the loss.  

It is appalling that the overall rate, and the rate for Māori is at its highest since 2007/08 when statistics were first recorded, despite an increased focus on this issue in society and health services over this time. The disparity in rates between Māori and other ethnic groups has grown in the last 10 years despite efforts to close this gap. It is clear we need to do better as a society. We can start by ensuring our programmes are acceptable and accessible for all.

We want you to know we are advocating for you, our GPs providing care and the patients you care for, to leverage more funding to improve our service. We are hopeful new initiatives like the primary care psychiatrist and new models of care increase the help available in this critical area of general practice.

We are working hard with our partner DHBs to maintain the extended consultation service, improve the support services available to the patients we see, and really want to see our funders supporting us in doing things differently in mental health services. 

Thanks for all the hard work you do every day supporting your patients and their whānau to improve and maintain their mental health and wellbeing. 

Should you have any questions please contact Maree McCracken Pinnacle MHN GP liaison - mental health or Amanda Bradley Mentally Well programme lead.

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