SUVA, April 4 (PNA/Xinhua) — More than 1,350 Fijians have committed suicide or attempted to commit suicide in the past six years, according to statistics from Fijian police this week.
There had been a notable increase of suicides and attempted suicides in Fiji recently and the figures are alarming, Isikeli Ligairi, Fiji’s assistant police commissioner, said at the National Symposium on Suicide Prevention on Tuesday.
“There are several circumstances that lead to the suicide and attempted suicide cases. These include domestic disputes, relationship problems, rejection by a partner’s family, family arguments, financial obligations, humiliation by persons in authority,” said Ligairi.
Suicide rates in the Pacific Islands are some of the highest in the world, reaching up to 30 per 100,000 in Samoa, Guam and Micronesia, doubling the global average, with youth rates even higher, according to the 2014 Pacific Island Reports.
“Youths committing suicide seem to get younger and younger by the year,” said Lionel Rogers of the Fiji-based Youth Champs for Mental Health.
He said contributing factors to suicide were unemployment, social and cultural expectations, family and relationship problems, bullying, violence and abuse.
The Pacific Islands has an escalating youth population, with 54 percent of people in the region now aged below 24 years, and those between 15 and 29 years are at the greatest risk of taking their lives.
Tarusila Bradburgh, a coordinator of the Pacific Youth Council, believe the burden of multiple issues that affect young people in the Pacific Islands are enormous and many are ill-equipped to cope.
She added that a decade ago there were an estimated 331,000 annual suicides in the region, accounting for 38 percent of the world total.
Anne Rauch, a development advisor of the Fiji Alliance for Mental Health, said there is significant under-reporting of suicide deaths.
She said under-funded and under-resourced mental health services struggle to address suicide.
In Tokelau, a national Health Department report claimed a significant factor in youth suicide is relationship breakdowns, including between parents and children.
In Papua New Guinea, there is an estimated 80,000 school leavers each year but only 10,000 secure formal jobs while youth unemployment is an estimated 45 percent in Solomon Islands.
UNICEF warned earlier that denial of economic and social opportunities lead to frustrated young people and the result could be a high incidence of self-harm with the loss of the productive potential of a large section of the adult population.