Health

New report reveals suicide as leading cause of death during and after pregnancy

There are calls for maternal mental health to be a policy priority.

A Helen Clark Foundation report has found suicide is the leading cause of death during pregnancy and the postnatal period.

Report author, Holly Walker, says up to half of all parents experience symptoms of angst.

"For some parents, it produces some kinds of distress, so depression, anxiety, stress and for some people, even more serious illness like psychosis."

The Helen Clark Foundation report has found Māori are three times more likely than non-Māori to die this way.

Walker, says it shows inequities in the health system.

"Arguably it's even a breach of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the crown's obligation to help equity for Māori but it's just certainly shameful, and something we need to change."

Report author, Holly Walker, reports that New Zealand's maternal suicide rate is seven times higher than in the UK.

"It's telling us we are doing something quite wrong here in terms of suicide prevention and how we manage perinatal mental health because we have a significantly higher general rate of maternal suicides."