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Region’s suicide rate points to worrying trend

There have been 83 deaths by suicide in Wairarapa between 2009 and 2021, with a rapidly increasing rate reported by community groups this year.

ChangeAbility social worker Hayley Wilton said that, within the last five weeks, the practice had seen about five deaths by suicide from its former clients. Tinui Revered Steve Thompson said the number could be higher.

Just last year, numbers released by the Ministry of Health showed six probable deaths by suicide in Wairarapa.

Mental Health Foundation said men were more than twice as likely to die by suicide than women, particularly rural men who saw a rate of 26.6 deaths by suicide per 100,000 in 2010.

However, Wilton said it could be a challenge getting men into the door for support.

She said if the first response didn’t go well, it was unlikely men would return for support again.

ChangeAbility family violence programme facilitator Paul Williams said he had noticed an increase in anxiety in the farming community about compliance.

“There’s a lot of anger about compliance and what it actually means for them financially.”

Thompson said it was important to make sure people were supported if it seemed that something wasn’t right.

He said East Coast Rural Support Trust, who he worked with, had seen an increase in the use of their support services.

“Not just with suicide but with the wet weather and now with the new government regulations, they’re [farmers] dealing with that.”

Thompson said everyone “got the blues a bit” but it was the people who cut themselves off that needed help the most.

“My job is to walk with people and support them through it, but

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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