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OPINION: Address The Suicide Issue Now

OPINION: Address The Suicide Issue Now
September 14
12:28 2015

This is a transcript of Nemani Delaibatiki’s programme on FBC Television’s, 4 the Record, on Sunday night.

 

No Fijian should have their lives cut short by suicide. It is extremely disturbing to know that of the 89 suicides in Fiji so far this year, 10  were of children under the age of 16.

Another 20 young people between the ages of 17 and 25 also took their own lives. So 30 suicides of people under the age of 25 in just eight months.

Of the 80 attempted suicides in Fiji over the same period, seven involved children under the age of 16 and another 35 were aged between 17 and 25. These are frightening statistics and we must address them as a matter of urgency.

It’s a terrible waste when young lives are lost unnecessarily to suicides.

It is said that suicide is often related to serious depression, substance use disorders, and other mental health conditions.

The death of three Fijian students after drinking the weedkiller paraquat recently  vividly brings home this grim reality that youth and child suicide has reached an unacceptable and alarming level in Fiji.

This tragedy just did not happen all of a sudden. It was a culmination of a series of events that no one saw or detected. Early intervention might have prevented it in hindsight.

The challenge is to find out how we can prevent suicide.  The trio before their deaths had made up their minds to kill themselves. Their mental state was such that they had no other options left. The only way out for them was death.

Our mental conditions dictate our thoughts and actions. Mental health, therefore is an important issue that must be addressed in the appropriate and professional way.

Because we do not openly talk about it and help those who suffer from it get treated, there are people walking undetected among us. Relationship problems, fear of exam results, peer pressure, loneliness, bullying and abuse are some of the contributing causes of depression and mental illness among our young people.

If not detected and treated early they could lead to thoughts of suicide as the only solution to end the torment, humiliation, shame and suffering.

The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, who is a champion of children and our young people, has launched a national campaign on suicide to raise public awareness.

He has elevated it as a national crisis that we ought to deal with right away. We don’t usually talk much about suicide.

Our attitude is the same with mental illness. But we must know that suicide is inextrically linked to mental illness.

Those who think of taking their own lives are mentally unstable but the illness can be treated. The tendency is that they will not voluntarily talk about it. They will only share it with someone very close to them because of the stigma associated with it.

That is why it is so important that family relationships in the home need to be nurtured and strengthened. A peaceful and loving environment should be created where children can discuss their problems and challenges candidly.

What they need is a listening ear. Many problems associated with juveline delinquency, anti-social behaviour and suicide thoughts can be effectively dealt with at this level. At the next level, the schools, churches, social groups, communities and other non-governmental organizations offer continuing support services.

There is a vital link between the family in the home and these institutions. Regular communication is essential. Minor problems grow to bigger problems when this link is broken. The link provides that essential safety net for our young people.

When we care about our young people we are keen and interested in their education and social life. We will attend their school, sports and social activities where our support is needed. We will cheer them up when the spirit is down and encourage them when they falter or fail. We will spend our prime time with them and let them know we care and love them.

For those who come from unstable homes, they need more love and attention. This is where schools and churches and other institutions can step in and help.  Some young people may live in isolation, loneliness and fear.

There is a helpline available. Please call this free number 1325 where help is readily available. The message must go out that suicide is wrong.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

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