THE number of people who take their lives in Fiji is higher than the annual road death toll.
This was revealed by Lautoka-based non-government organisation, Empower Pacific. And coupled with the fact that the highest rates of suicide were among young educated Fijians, this could impact on socio-economic productivity and the strength of communities and families.
Empower Pacific said it had been working with suicidal clients in Fiji since 1994 under its previous banner, Pacific Counselling and Social Services, and had extensive experience and data which showed that people were not accessing their counselling services early enough.
"What needs to happen is that everyone in communities needs to be more active in asking their family members, friends and community members, 'are you OK? Can I help you get help?" said Empower Pacific CEO Rhianon Vichta.
"People need to be more willing to talk about depression, self-harm and suicide. People need to help each other to get the support that they need when they need it."
She said it was also important for people to understand the link between poverty and suicide.
"Poor social and economic conditions adversely affect mental health, and reciprocally, poor mental health undermines social and economic development. We cannot hope to reduce suicide rates unless we look closely at the broader social patterns of financial and personal security, cultural issues, family and community relationship patterns and a whole range of complex social issues."