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Fiji Time: 4:26 PM on Wednesday 24 September

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Need for dialogue

Tevita Vuibau
Friday, January 18, 2013

THERE needs to be communication about suicide because it's the single biggest factor that could help bring national suicide figures down.

This is the word from Empower Pacific, a non-government orgarnisation that provides professional counselling services for those who need it most.

The call follows the revelation of police statistics which show there were 124 suicides and 144 attempted suicides last year.

The statistics show the largest number of suicides, 77, were committed by people over the age of 25; in this age group, there were 63 attempted suicides.

According to the figures more males — 80 — took their own lives than females — 44.

"The most important thing is to reach out and communicate about suicide.

"Staying quiet, assuming people are okay, not wanting to talk about uncomfortable feelings, not wanting to interfere, these are all reasons why people don't get the help that they need when they need it," said Empower Pacific CEO, Rhianon Vichta.

"Just taking the time to ask 'are you okay?' can make all the difference in the world."

Ms Vichta said Empower Pacific provided counsellors at hospitals in Lautoka, Nadi, Labasa, Suva, Tavua, Ba, Rakiraki and Sigatoka for those contemplating suicide.

Ms Vichta said while government stakeholders were working to bring the number of suicides down, the rise in social issues meant a more concerted approach was needed.

"We see a pattern of increasing rates of suicide but it is unclear whether there are more accurate reporting processes in place, and better rates of being able to provide treatment when it is needed, or if rates are actually increasing.

"We do know that in parts of Fiji, especially in the north, we have some of the highest rates of suicide in the world."