Report by Pacific Media Centre – Niklas Pedersen reports from Suva. Video: PMC
A suicide or attempted suicide is now reported every day and a half in Fiji, say police.
Over the past three years, 422 people has taken their own lives in Fiji. This is almost three times the number of road fatalities in the same period.
Those numbers were highlighted as hundreds of people marched through Suva for World Suicide Prevention day in the middle of September.
“This is one of the reports, I’ve noticed a sudden increase in over the last two years. As of now we’re almost receiving a report on suicide or attempted suicide every one and a half days,” says Rusiate Tudravu, Associate Police Commisioner.
The suicide prevention day came only two weeks after three young schoolchildren took their own lives in Suva by drinking paraquat. This year ten children under 16 have committed suicide in Fiji.
“Suicide is something we really need to raise awareness of. We can all play a part in Fiji in reducing the statistics by simply being more aware and more supportive and knowing where to find expert help, where it’s needed”, says Fiji’s Minister of Health and Medical Services, Jone Usamate.
And expert help has been easier to find since the National Child Helpline was launched in April.
Almost 4700 calls have been placed to the helpline in the first five months of its existence from children as young as five.
“It’s a good tool, because this gives children a platform, where they can voice whatever is bothering them. And slowly we are trying to raise awareness of how the wider community can use our helpline”, says Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Rosy Akbar.
This week the Fiji government is also taking more extraordinary measures to keep young people from taking their own lives.
All schoolchildren have been told to take an anti-suicide pledge, reports Radio New Zealand.