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Fiji Time: 5:35 AM on Thursday 18 September

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Suicide rate increase worries youth group

Thursday, February 28, 2008

MORE than 700 people have committed suicide since 2000, which is a cause for worry because there is less information available to youths on the issue, says Young People's Concerned Network (YPCN) spokesman Peter Waqavonovono.

Mr Waqavonovono said many suicides were covered up and that the reported number of cases were just the tip of the iceberg.

He said they were concerned because recently there had been many reports of teenage suicides in Fiji, arising from family, economic and social factors.

"The YPCN is concerned that although there is a escalating trend, there still is a high degree of inaction from stakeholders," he said.

Mr Waqavonovono said the organisation had seen worrying trends where suicide rates escalate every time there is a political upheaval.

"This is due to economic and social difficulties that the coup culture has helped breed because of our leaders' inaction on the issue and hunger for power," he said.

"Every coup leader and supporter should blame themselves for the setbacks to our economy and increase of social ills brought about by the prevailing coup culture.

"We ask this interim government and our leaders to address the issue of youth suicide and take steps to eradicate the coup culture and allow our economy and society to prosper."

Last week villagers in Nadi were shocked after two teenagers committed suicide in what is believed to be a lovers pact.

"To date in Fiji there is no clear road map into how to tackle suicide among young people and there is hardly much avenue for citizens to seek free assistance and information on depression, suicide prevention and problem solving," Mr Waqavonovono said.

"Our education system has over the years become a breeding ground for teenage suicide, where students with problems and difficulties are significantly pushed aside and where teachers don't react to suicidal 'warning signals'."

According to the YPCN, the efforts by non-governmental organisations and the Ministry of Health in formulating a National Suicide Prevention Policy that will consolidate efforts to reduce and eradicate the growing health epidemic of suicide was a commendable one.


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