Appendix: How we did our work

Collecting and using information about suicide.

We talked with staff from the Ministry of Health, the Health Quality and Safety Commission, and the Ministry of Justice about their respective roles in collecting and using information about suicide. We reviewed documents they gave us or that they have published online. We also read research reports from New Zealand and overseas, and important World Health Organization publications on suicide.

We met with the chairs of the three mortality committees and they commented on our audit questions. The Health Quality and Safety Commission forwarded to us some comments from the four most northern DHBs. We met with experienced suicide researchers from the University of Otago, who worked with the Suicide Mortality Review Committee, to discuss their work and suicide data generally.

We met with New Zealand Police inquest officers based in Wellington, and attended an inquest into the suspected suicide of a person who was in an institution. We reviewed some recently closed coronial files where suicide was the cause of death. We read the files at the Ministry of Justice's offices, and did not look at highly sensitive information, such as photographs or documents that were kept separately in an envelope in each case file. We got an understanding of the Ministry of Justice's electronic case management system for coronial inquiries. The Ministry of Justice showed us the National Coronial Information System, which is an Australian database holding information supplied by Australian and New Zealand coroners.

We wrote to government agencies that are members of an officials' Interagency Committee on Suicide Prevention, and offered them an opportunity to comment on our audit questions. We wrote with the same offer to some other agencies whose work sometimes involves looking into suspected suicide or controlling a potential method of suicide, such as access to harmful substances. We got comments from the:

  • Accident Compensation Corporation;
  • Department of Corrections;
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment;
  • Ministry of Education;
  • Ministry of Social Development;
  • New Zealand Defence Force; and
  • New Zealand Police.