28th April 2017, Volume 130 Number 1454

Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, Roy Lay-Yee, Martin Von Randow

Suicide is a major public health concern.1 The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that, globally, over 800,000 people die by suicide each year, representing an annual global age-standardised suicide rate…

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This study is a review of all recorded suicide deaths for Pacific peoples in New Zealand over a 17-year period (1996–2013) and is the first of its kind. This will help in the planning of policies, programmes and services for mental health and suicide prevention and the need to be mindful of the shifting trends over time, in order to adequately and appropriately address the issue of Pacific mental health and suicide.



The aim of this study was to describe trends in suicide mortality for Pacific peoples in New Zealand by reviewing official data over the period 1996–2013.


Death registrations where the underlying causes of death were intentional self-harm was examined and area of interest was identified and presented.


Over a 17-year period (1996–2013), there were 380 total Pacific suicides (4.1%) out of 9,307 suicides nationally for New Zealand’s total population.


Priority areas for effective suicide prevention include: Pacific young males, Pacific ethnic foci, clear ethnic disparities and inequalities for Pacific suicide mortality when compared to New Zealand’s total population; safe, ethical and culturally appropriate messaging around suicide methods; the importance of the role of mental health and addictions in suicide prevention. On average, there are at least 22 Pacific suicides annually in New Zealand. Irrespective of small numbers, further Pacific ethnic breakdown is needed other than Samoan, Cook Islands and Tongan, as this is problematic for suicide prevention efforts for the exclusion of other Pacific groups.

Author Information

Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, Pacific Health, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Glen Innes; Roy Lay-Yee, Centre of Methods and Policy Application in the Social Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland; Martin von Randow, Centre of Methods and Policy Application in the Social Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland.


This study was funded by a Health Research Council of New Zealand and Ministry of Health Pacific Partnership Programme grant. The death registration data were provided by the Ministry of Health (NZ).


Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, Pacific Health, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, 261 Morrin Rd, Glen Innes 1072.

Correspondence Email


Competing Interests



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