Social Explanations for Suicide in New Zealand

Published online: 
02 December 2005


A suite of five reports, and a sixth summary report, has been produced as part of a contract the Ministry of Health held with the Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences between 2001 and 2004.

The reports explore a range of possible social explanations, analyses and evidence about New Zealand’s suicide trends. The report topics ranged from a selective literature review of published studies examining a range of social factors for suicide, to contemporary Māori views on suicide (whakamomori), comparisons of suicide rates between Finland and New Zealand during economic recession, and the correlation between suicide and socio-economic fluctuations in New Zealand over a 20-year period.

The broad consensus arising from the suite of reports is that social factors are relevant to suicide. However the linkages between macrosocial, cultural and macroeconomic factors and individual suicidal behaviours still remain unclear.

The Ministry commissioned this research to broaden understanding of the causes of suicide which, to date, has predominantly focused on individual-level risk factors.

Report no. Author/s Title
1 – Literature review
Caroline Maskill,
Ian Hodges,
Velma McClellan,
Dr Sunny Collings
Explaining Patterns of Suicide: A selective review of studies examining social, economic, cultural and other population-level influences
ISBN 0-478-29656-8 (Book)
ISBN 0-478-29604-5 (Website)
HP 4167
2 – Review of routine data
Stuart Ferguson,
Assc Prof Tony Blakely,
Bridget Allan,
Dr Sunny Collings
Suicide Rates in New Zealand: exploring associations with social and economic factors
ISBN 0-478-29657-6 (Book)
ISBN 0-47828381-4 (Internet)
HP 4114
3 – Māori (2004) Dr Paul Hirini,
Dr Sunny Collings
Whakamomori: He whakaaro, he korero noa. A collection of contemporary views on Māori and suicide
ISBN: 0-478-29658-4 (Book)
ISBN 0-478-28379-2 (Internet)
HP 4115
4 – New Zealand–Finland
comparison (2003)
Assc Prof Philippa Howden-Chapman,
Dr Simon Hales,
Dr Ralph Chapman,
Dr Ilmo Keskimaki
The Impact of Economic Recession on Youth Suicide: A comparison of New Zealand and Finland
ISBN 0-478-29650-9 (Book)
ISBN 0-478-29653-3 (Internet)
HP 4165
No hard copy available
5 – Data analysis from the New Zealand Census
–Mortality Study (2004)
Dr Sunny Collings,
Assc Prof Tony Blakely,
June Atkinson,
Jackie Fawcett
Suicide Trends and Social Factors in New Zealand 1981–1999: Analyses from the New Zealand Census-Mortality Study
ISBN 0-478-29654-1 (Book)
ISBN 0-478-29655-X (Internet)
HP 4166
No hard copy available
6 – Summary of
reports 1–5 (2004)
Dr Sunny Collings,
Assoc Prof Annette Beautrais
Suicide Prevention in New Zealand: a contemporary perspective
ISBN 0-478-28373-3 (Book)
ISBN 0-478-28374-1 (Internet)
HP 4108

Publishing information

  • Date of publication:
    02 December 2005
  • Ordering information:
    Only soft copy available to download
  • Copyright status:

    Third-party content. Please check the document or email the Web Manager to find out how to obtain permission to re-use content.

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