Suicide! Act Now: PM

Prime Minister  Voreqe Bainimarama says, “We need as a nation to act and act decisively to confront the national crisis of child and youth suicide and resolutely do something about
11 Sep 2015 12:52
Suicide! Act Now: PM
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the Fiji Principals Association conference at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi yesterday. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Prime Minister  Voreqe Bainimarama says, “We need as a nation to act and act decisively to confront the national crisis of child and youth suicide and resolutely do something about it.”

Speaking at the Fiji Principals Association conference in Nadi yesterday, he said: “I want all of you – the heads of the nation’s schools – to take the lead.

“I’m ashamed to admit that it is only now – as a society – that Fiji is starting to adequately acknowledge this crisis..

“And to institute the kind of measures that should have been put in place years ago to protect our young people. To give them somewhere to turn in their despair.  To give them a shoulder to lean on. Someone to talk to and help them through their problems.

“Many Fijians will share my grief and dismay at the suicides of three primary school students last week. I want to spare their families the ordeal of their Prime Minister raking over all the details in public of this tragic, tragic, event. Except to say to these families – and especially the parents of these children – that the nation is with you in your grief.

“Our hearts are also broken. We send you our love and our sympathy. And we are asking ourselves the same questions that you are. How did this come to happen? What drove these children to such despair? How could we not see that they were so troubled? Why couldn’t we reach out and save them?

“Today happens to be World Suicide Prevention Day. And I’m pleased that the Government is already taking a lead in drawing attention to the causes of suicide and what we can do about it. Some of my ministers are attending a march in Suva to highlight this crisis as it applies to Fiji. Where it has reached shocking proportions and where we urgently need a much more decisive effort to deal with it.

“Of the 89 suicides in Fiji so far this year, 10 of these 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 of these involved children under the age of 16 and another 35 were aged between 17 and 25. It is truly a national issue among our young and we should have a maximum national effort to address it.

“Since January this year through the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, we have started a Child Helpline in Fiji and I want to refer in some detail to this service. It is a phone number that children and young people can call and get help. To talk to counsellors trained in dealing with the many challenges our young people face. And especially when they are depressed and contemplating self-harm.



“The number is 1325 and calls to it are free from any landline or mobile. I appeal to the media to make this known more widely.  If you have a newspaper or magazine, please publicise this number – 1325 – or publish the leaflet of the organisation, Medical Services Pacific that runs this important service in partnership with the Fijian Government.

“If you have a television station or radio station, please run community service announcements to get this number – 1325 – etched in the minds of every young person. And I appeal to the media generally to do as many stories as possible on the services that are available for children and young people at risk. They need to know there is someone there no matter how deep their despair. They need to know that help is as close as a phone call. And despite it’s name, the Child Help Line isn’t only for children, but every young Fijian under the age of 30.

“In the first eight months of this year – this service took 400 genuine calls from young people who needed help and got it. Who were counselled and referred to other agencies for assistance. So it’s already very clear that it is a valuable tool in our fight against youth suicide.

“At the moment, it is operating from 6am to 6pm, seven days a week and we intend to make it available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the near future,” he said.



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