An increase in suicides among teenagers, particularly Maori, and a rare self-inflicted death of a child under 10 are among the grim details released on Monday about suicides in the past year.
Eighty teenagers between 15 and 19 took their own lives, up from 56 the year before, according to statistics released by Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean.
Of those 80, 37 were Maori, well above the average over the previous four years of 21.
There were 547 suicides in the year ended June 30, 2012, down 11 from the previous year but in line with the average over the past five years.
One of those was a child aged between five and nine, the youngest suicide case since the Coronial Services Unit began collecting comprehensive statistics in 2007.
"The sensitivities around this case are obvious and no further details about it will be made public," Judge MacLean said.
Suicides rose in the Christchurch region from 67 to 81, after a fall in suicides after the February 2011 earthquake.
"The phenomenon of a drop in the suicide rate after a large scale crisis event, such as a natural disaster, has been observed elsewhere," Judge MacLean said.
As with the previous five years, nearly three-quarters of those who took their own lives were male. A high proportion, 28 per cent, were unemployed.
The most significant fall in the suicide rate was with people aged 50-74.
There has traditionally been sensitivity over the reporting of suicide statistics but it has opened up in recent years and Judge MacLean says it is important for understanding the issue.
"Coroners have a responsibility to encourage the informed public discussion about how best to reduce the rate of suicide. To have that discussion we need up-to-date and complete information."
* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline's 24-hour telephone counselling service on 0800 543 354.