Editorial comment – Opening up to suicides

Silence 4 Stigma Youth Campaign member Serelisoni Moceica face the inevitable on Suva's pavement to raise funds for the much needed cause of working against the rise of suicide rates in the country. Picture: File

The fact that suicide numbers in Fiji have steadily been greater than deaths on our roads is shocking. Figures reveal there were 70 cases recorded from January to September this year, surpassing the number of deaths on our roads.

These figures were sourced from the Fiji Police Force and the National Substance Abuse Advisory Council.

They revealed that 630 young people between the ages of 11 to 25 resorted to taking their lives from January 2011 to September 2018.

National Committee on the Prevention of Suicide (NCOPS) member Mohammed Hassan Khan believes Fiji should look at the economic costs of untreated mental illness and its cost to society.

The figures, he insisted, cannot be treated as statistics “given some high profile cases involving professionals and students”.

“This is a huge loss of youth.”

Psychotherapist Selina Kuruleca said the number of Fijians resorting to taking their lives showed many underlying factors which was worrying.

Families, she said, needed to be educated. Young people, she said, and communities needed to learn interventions and how to address issues surrounding suicide, including bullying, anger management, stress management, alcohol and drug abuse.

People should be talking about what she terms the unnecessary loss of life.

We must try to understand and be aware of warning signs. Our stats are consistent with global trends, she said.

People are supposed to be entering the most productive years of their life, she said, finishing high school, tertiary, getting a job, starting a family but they have made a poor decision.

“We need to reverse this trend. We need to stop these suicides.”

Social and economic impact on suicides could become significant if the figures continue to rise, she said. Ms Kuruleca believes one of the

“underlying pressures and problems that plagues most young people suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts is that they don’t talk about it”.

We are putting undue pressure on ourselves, she said, and we’re not seeking help or taking care of ourselves when we are stuck.

It’s always heartbreaking when someone decides that their problems are just too difficult to handle and that life is painful.

The suicide of a young person is especially difficult for those who love him or her. It can be frustrating when one considers the fact that they are still at the most productive stage of life, with the world before them. Suicides slam the door shut on dreams and aspirations.

As families and friends struggle to make sense of suicides, it falls on us all to try and understand it, appreciate the potential signs and how to effectively deal with them.

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