Stuff.co.nz 27 August 2013
Elderly men are taking their lives at a high rate, and the chief coroner has raised the possibility of a link with euthanasia.
Suicide figures published yesterday highlighted the lack of information about people who died through euthanasia, which was illegal in New Zealand, chief coroner Judge Neil MacLean said.
“Euthanasia is suicide – we don’t go into details about the euthanasia rate.”
The figures show that, in the past year, men aged 85 or older were more likely to take their own lives than any other group.
Judge MacLean said more research was needed into elderly suicides. “Is it in rest homes, in the community, in hospitals?”
He said the research was necessary even though those aged 85 and older made up only a small proportion of the 541 people who killed themselves last year. Nine men in that age group took their lives in the 12 months to June 30, pushing their suicide rate to 31 per 100,000 people.
Older women were far less likely to commit suicide, with only three taking their lives last year.