Behind the suicide spike - unemployment, child poverty, racism

Suicides are always political.
Suicide statistics have been released for the year to 30 June 2012 and show a 40% surge in suicides of 15-19 year olds killing themselves. The tragic spike in youth suicides mirrors the rise in children living in poverty to 21%.

The unemployed make up 28% of the 547 suicides in the last year. It's no secret unemployment is linked with suicide, 'One Oxford university study shows that a 3 percent rise in unemployment is linked to a rise of 2.4 percent in suicides in people under the age of 64.'

A recent paper in the British Medical Journal concluded, 'More than 1,000 people in the UK may have killed themselves because of the impact on their lives of the economic recession.'

Maori are overrepresented in suicide and numbers are rising. Suicide among Maori rose from 101 to 142 from 2010/2011 to 2011/2012. A 2006 study that compared a group of Maori who had attempted suicide to a control group found, 'Higher numbers among the attempted-suicide group were not connected to things Maori.'

The researcher who wrote the report concluded, 'Maori who lost contact with Maoritanga - things like their whakapapa, marae and Maori language - "lack a sense of belonging to a place". Rebuilding these connections, like learning the language, could help to reduce the risk of Maori suicide.'

Ending the scourge of suicide means ending unemployment and poverty. It also means fighting for more support for iwi and hapu to reconnect young Maori with their culture and language.

The suicide statistics show that Maori, children and the unemployed are paying dearly for the economic crisis. One suicide in Tunisia was enough to spark the Arab Spring - a fight for freedom, human rights and social welfare. Over 2700 suicides in the last five years in Aotearoa should spark a fight against the National Party's attacks on Maori, the unemployed and beneficiaries and workers' rights.

-Socialist Aotearoa


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