21 Mar 2014

Suicide rate may be easing - Coroner

12:00 pm on 21 March 2014

The Chief Coroner says there are some signs New Zealand's high suicide rate might be starting to come down.

Coroners' data, which includes provisional findings, shows the annual rate hovering at about 540 deaths for the past six years.

Chief coroner Judge Neil McLean says when compared with the road toll, which is coming down through a whole host of measures, the suicide rate has proved difficult to reduce.

He says it is too early to be definite, but the tide may be starting to turn.

Judge McLean says February was the lowest month for suicide in the seven years coroners have been keeping records.

He says one month doesn't make a trend but he is hopeful the figures indicate a positive change.

Judge Mclean says he could yet be proved wrong but a huge amount of work is going into helping communities following a suicide, particularly youth suicides.