The number of suicide deaths in New Zealand have increased for the third year in a row. The provisional suicide statistics released today show:
- 606 people died by suicide in the 12 months to June 2017 – almost twice the road toll (363 for the 12 months to 28 August).
- Males are represented in about three-quarters of suicide deaths.
- The highest number of suicide deaths are among 20 – 24 year-olds.
- Maori continue to have the highest suicide rate of all ethnic groups.
“It is concerning that there is an assisted suicide bill before Parliament, despite our high suicide rate”, says Renee Joubert, executive officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ.
“Essentially the only difference between suicide and assisted suicide is the number of people involved in bringing about the death. In both cases the person likely desires death due to feeling that they’re suffering unbearably and/or have no hope for a better future.
“If suicide is to be prevented, assisted suicide should be prevented also.
“There is definitely a demand for ‘assisted dying’ as a means of suicide”, says Ms Joubert.
“We regularly receive phone calls and emails from suicidal people inquiring about ways to access euthanasia because they can’t bring themselves to executing other suicide methods. They usually start out talking only about their emotional reasons, and later mention physical medical conditions that would make them eligible for assisted suicide and euthanasia under David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill.
“Even if depression would be explicitly excluded from the eligibility criteria, suicidal people would still be at risk of accessing ‘assisted dying’. Depression and suicidal ideation can too easily be denied, hidden, dismissed or misdiagnosed. Even mild, subclinical depression could still affect a person’s will to live.”
‘Assisted dying’ legislation would send the message that death is an appropriate response to suffering – a dangerous message to people who are emotionally vulnerable.
Such a law would change the role of doctors from only helping to prevent suicide, to also facilitating suicide.
Euthanasia-Free NZ call on politicians and the public to reject ACT MP David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill in principle.
If you or someone you know is in distress, please phone 0800 TAUTOKO (0800 828 865).