'Still too many' people threatening self harm in phone calls to Inland Revenue

Inland Revenue says there are still too many people threatening self-harm in phone calls to the department and people should engage with it early so they can be helped to avoid desperation over debt.

The number of people threatening self-harm in phone calls to IR has trended down consistently over the last three years.

Figures released today show in the calendar year 2016 there were 334 threats of self-harm in calls. This was down to 306 in 2017 and 182 to August 28 this year. Of those approximately half were reported to police.

"There are still too many, but this is an encouraging trend that we hope continues," said  Mary Craig, Inland Revenue's deputy commissioner, corporate integrity and assurance.

"Our staff have been encouraged to take a consistent approach to these difficult calls that aims to help rather than exacerbate each situation," Ms Craig said.

"But a key to avoiding these situations can be for people to engage early with IR so that we can help them avoid getting to the point of desperation with debt," she said. 

"We can and do help people resolve difficult situations all the time.

"The most important thing is that they don’t need to lose hope because there are options we can discuss with them," Ms Craig said.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7)

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

Safe to talk National Sexual Harm Helpline - 0800 044 334, www.safetotalk.nz

Victim Support National 24 Hour Helpline 0800 842 846, www.victimsupport.org.nz

• Rape Crisis National 24 Hour Helpline 0800 883300

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

IRD New Zealand currency composite image.
IRD and New Zealand currency composite image. Source: 1 NEWS