Fa’ataua Le Ola (F.L.O.) launched their new website at the Millenia Hotel on Wednesday night.
The organization also created awareness of their “Rev Mafi Oloapu Walk for Life 2017” on Saturday morning to highlight the purpose of their organization and to raise funds.
F.L.O. already has a social media presence and they have found that it is a useful tool in reaching the most at-risk group - the Samoan youth.
Chairperson, Papali’i Tiumalu Caroline Paul Ah-Chong told attendees at the launch that they regularly received messages from people seeking their counseling services.
“Untreated or unaddressed depression is something that can trigger suicidal thoughts and most people live with depression at some point in their lives,” she said.
“It is nothing to be ashamed of and people should help each other if or when, they detect that someone they know is suffering from depression.
“You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see this and it does not take much effort to ask someone ‘Are you ok/Ua mai oe?’ and be there for them. Fa’ataua Le Ola, with its mission of trying to ‘save lives’, is asking the nation to stand together to bring positive awareness to the issue of suicide.
“By helping people in our respective communities and families who are suffering from depression, violence, and abuse or facing hardships, we can make a difference before it is too late, we can save their lives.”
The website is another significant step towards providing more pathways for Samoans to access free counseling services in the efforts to end suicide in this country.
The website was sponsored by Justin Kelly, Owner/C.E.O. of SamoaDive and Snorkel and put together by Spacific P.R.
Through Mr. Kelly’s experience, he wanted to make sure that this wasn’t the case for Samoans seeking urgent help.
“Everyone has a phone in Samoa,” Mr. Kelly said.
“Samoans use the internet through mobile devices more than any other city nation. We know that digital is the future especially for providing a service in suicide prevention.
“So we got together (with Spacific P.R .and F.L.O.) and we knew that a little bit could mean quite a lot, so after that we contacted Caroline and made a donation for the purpose of the website.
“In the case of suicide, big issues like fires start off small, so if this digital product can help prevent a small issue from growing into a big issue that can lead to suicides then, I think we have all done our part.”
The Keynote Address was given on behalf of acting chairman of F.L.O., Tuatagaloa Folasaitu Joe Annandale by Luamanuvae Lise Higgs who dedicated the website launch and their awareness walking campaign “Walk for Life” to the late Reverend Mafi Oloapu who passed away in September this year.
Reverend Oloapu was instrumental in the formation and inception of F.L.O.
He was an advocate for saving lives and his leadership was crucial in the development of many of F.L.O.s outreach programmes to both church communities and colleges.
“A suicide-free Samoa is the ultimate goal for Fa’ataua le Ola,” said Papali’i.
Eventually the organization would like to set up a call centre which would centralize their services and offer better quality, in that it would allow their counselors to focus their attention on the people who call their 24-hour service, which Papali’i noted were mainly youths.
“In 2016 F.L.O. launched suicide awareness and prevention outreach campaigns in various colleges around Samoa because it was noted in suicide statistics that the highest number of suicides in that year was amongst the youth (18-35 year olds).
“This outreach to colleges has continued this year. Fa’ataua Le Ola does not have the answers as to why suicide is prevalent amongst the youth.
“However, from our counseling reports, we are able to see a clear pattern of several contributing factors; Discerning minds - opportunity for higher education; Globalization – exposed to the outside world; and Rights of the Child - conflicts between parents and children.
“Whether we like it or not, Samoa, over the past 20 odd years, has become part of a global transformation with rapid and life-changing events occurring in every facet of life in Samoa, most especially within the family unit.
“These changes have created problems within families and the youths especially are being challenged because they experience conflicts between their cultural upbringing and the westernized or modern mode of thinking.”