Increased workloads and #socialmedia use could be contributing to the fact the number of students dying by #suicide has almost doubled in just over a decade.
Universities have noticed a sustained increase in the number of students reporting mental distress, as have high school guidance counsellors, who have struggled with mounting case loads as more students with increasingly acute problems seek help.
Provisional figures released by the coroner show 37 students died by #suicide in 2007-08. In 2018-19, the number increased to 71. As well as university and polytechnic students, the coroner’s office also includes anyone at primary, intermediate and secondary schools in the student category.
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
Student well being and pastoral care has come under scrutiny following the death of a University of Canterbury student. The body of 19-year-old Mason Pendrous went undiscovered for weeks before it was found in student accommodation run by Campus Living Villages late on on September 23.
The delay finding Pendrous sparked concerns about the level of pastoral care at university halls, several investigations and an urgent, Government-led review of the regulatory framework that applies to student accommodation.
Youth health expert Dr Sue Bagshaw said there had been a big increase in the number of distressed students. Multiple factors were at play, but two easily identifiable stressors were exam and workload pressure and #socialmedia use.
“There’s a constant, really high expectation of students and it’s just too much pressure, especially when you have #anxiety,” she said. People had always compared themselves against others, but it become more pronounced because of #socialmedia.
“It’s the comparison. We know a lot of underlying #stress is that feeling, ‘I’m not good enough’,” Bagshaw said.
New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations acting president Caitlin Barlow-Groome said students were more aware of and open about #mentalhealthissues, something that was reflected in high demand for services.
Students, especially in Auckland and Wellington, were under financial pressure due to the cost of living, and juggling part-time jobs with study to get by.
There had been an increase in the level of #mentalhealthsupport available to students, and the university sector was acting to try cut down wait times, she said.
WHERE #SUICIDE RATES ARE HIGHEST
In late August, Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall released provisional #suicide statistics showing 685 people had died in the year to June 2019 – the highest figure since the annual statistics were first recorded in 2007-08.
The public statistics included the number of deaths by district health board (DHB) area (Waitematā had the most with 87, followed by Canterbury with 74), but not a per capita rate by DHB, which allows for comparisons between different-sized populations.
Stuff obtained the information under the Official Information Act. The DHB areas with the highest 2018-19 suicide rates (expressed as suicides per 100,000 people) are all in the central and east coast of the North Island.
Of the 20 DHB areas, Whanganui, where there were 16 deaths recorded, had the highest rate with 24.65 suicides per 100,000 followed by Hawke’s Bay, 22.92, Lakes, 20.97, Mid-Central, 20.64, and Tairāwhiti, 20.37. The national #suicide rate for the year to June 2019 was 13.93. For Māori, it was 28.23.
Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said it was “shocking” and “extremely distressing” to know the DHB area had the highest per capita rate in the country. However, he said there was a danger “if you compartmentalise the #suicide issue”, because “it’s an issue everywhere”.