29 Jul 2016

Cost of suicide - not just an emotional toll

4:16 pm on 29 July 2016

New figures indicate suicide is not only a personal tragedy but has a substantial economic cost.

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Photo: 123rf.com

The Office of the Auditor-General estimates that in each death the combined loss of an individual's contribution to society, the economy and an individual's family amounted to $3.4 million. The economic cost alone was put at $600,000.

The main author of the report, Leanne Arker, said nobody liked to value a life in dollar terms, but it could be helpful to work out priorities in terms of public health.

The estimates of the financial cost of suicide to society were worked out as part of a wider investigation into the usefulness of the information on suicide that was already being collected, analysed and published.

The report found gaps in the way the information was gathered and presented, and Ms Arker hoped the recommendations would lead to changes so community groups and agencies could analyse what worked and identify possible new options when it came to suicide prevention.

Suicide rates in New Zealand have remained more or less unchanged since declines in the late 1990s, and youth suicide rates are some of the worst among OECD countries.

Provisional figures for the year 2014/15 released by the Chief Coroner indicate that 564 people took their own lives, the highest number in the eight years since the figures were released.

Listen to and read a full Insight investigation on this on Sunday morning.

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

For more information, contact the Mental Health Foundation's free Resource and Information Service on 09 623 4812 or email info@mentalhealth.org.nz

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