The Chief Coroner has this morning addressed rumours which were circulated online saying New Zealand's suicide rate had increased during the lockdown period - saying they are demonstrably untrue.
The rumour was spread through an anonymous Twitter account under the name @vickithesaneone - which has since been deleted - and gave a false anecdotal account of speaking to a police officer who had told them the suicide rate during lockdown had risen.
Police have since denied any kind of surge in suicides, and the Mental Health Foundation has denounced the rumour as "totally irresponsible and untrue".
In a rare comment, Judge Deborah Marshall today said the Coroner's Office has been working closely with the Suicide Prevention Office to monitor suspected suicide numbers.
Judge Marshall said ascertaining the cause of death takes time, and it would be "irresponsible to release provisional numbers for such a short period of time, or to associate these figures with the pandemic, as the numbers can rise and fall for many reasons".
"However, there have been concerning reports of a reported rise in suicide rates during Alert Level 4.
"In the interests of addressing this, I can confirm based on the provisional numbers I have, this is incorrect.
"The provisional trend suggests the suicide rate was lower during the Alert Level 4 period than the 33 days prior to it (22 February – 25 March 2020).
"The suicide rate during Alert Level 4 was also lower than the rate for the same period from 2008 to 2020."