New Zealand suicide rate reaches record high


File photo: CGTN

WELLINGTON, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- The number of suicides in New Zealand has reached record high, with 685 people believed to have taken their lives through suicide in the year to June 30, Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall said on Monday.

There were 17 more deaths than in the previous year, an increase of 2.5 percent, Marshall said.

It is "a sad reminder of the scale of the long-term mental health challenge we face as a nation," Health Minister David Clark said in a statement.

A Suicide Prevention Office and a new national Suicide Prevention Strategy will be made in the coming weeks, Clark said.

Budget 2019 included a record 1.9 billion NZ dollars (1.2 billion US dollars) investment in mental health and addiction, including 455 million NZ dollars to create new frontline services and 40 million NZ dollars for suicide prevention.

This work includes a national fund to provide free counselling for those bereaved by suicide, an expanded family and community suicide prevention information service and tailored Maori and Pacific suicide prevention initiatives, Clark said.

"Budget 2019 also provided funding to improve the support given to the around 15,000 people who go to emergency departments each year experiencing a mental health crisis or at risk of suicide," the minister said.