Suicide

International comparisons

The youth suicide rate is higher in New Zealand than in most other countries for which comparative data is available (and our rate of suicide for older age groups is lower).(1) 

According to data collected between 2002 and 2004, New Zealand had the second highest male youth suicide rate and the third highest female youth suicide rate out of 14 developed countries.

The Ministry of Health’s “Suicide Facts: 2005-2006 data” report gives the following caution with respect to international comparison of suicide death rates:

  • A cautious approach is recommended when comparing international suicide statistics, as many factors affect the recording and classification of suicide in different countries and these factors may result in undercounts.  Potentially influential factors include the level of proof required for a verdict, stigma, religion, social class, occupation and confidentiality (Andriessen 2006).  Deaths that may be classified as suicide in some countries may be classified as undetermined intent in others.(2)
Suicide deaths among young males aged 15 to 24 in selected countries, for the years 2002 to 2005
Country Suicide death rate per 100,000 males
Finland (2004) 33.1
New Zealand (2005) 27.6
Ireland (2005) 20.4
Norway (2004) 20.3
Canada (2002) 17.5
Australia (2003) 17.4
Japan (2004) 16.9
USA (2002) 16.5
Sweden (2002) 14.6
France (2003) 12.5
Germany (2004) 10.5
United Kingdom (2004) 8.0
Netherlands (2004) 7.3

Source: Ministry of Health, 2007, Suicide Facts: 2005-2006 data.

Suicide deaths among young females aged 15 to 24 in selected countries, for the years 2002 to 2005
Country Suicide death rate per 100,000 females
Finland (2004) 9.7
Japan (2004) 8.4
New Zealand (2005) 8.2
Norway (2004) 7.3
Canada (2002) 5.2
Sweden (2002) 4.5
France (2003) 3.7
Australia (2003) 3.6
Ireland (2005) 3.2
USA (2002) 2.9
Germany (2004) 2.7
Netherlands (2004) 2.6
United Kingdom (2004) 2.3

Source: Ministry of Health, 2007, Suicide Facts: 2005-2006 data. 

Notes

1. World Health Organization, 2004, Suicide Prevention: Country Reports and Charts. Geneva: World Health Organization.

2. Ministry of Health, 2007,  Suicide Facts: 2005-2006 data. Wellington: Ministry of Health, p.18.