Last week, the Coroner in the Inquest into the death of a fa’afafine found hanging from a church hall at Taufusi ruled that suicide was the cause of death.
Judge Vaepule Vaemoa Vaai’s decision was pretty straightforward after a lengthy hearing, followed closely here and abroad for many reasons.
“The cause of his death was hanging, he committed suicide,” Judge Vaepule ruled. “According to the police evidence the bruising seen on his face was from of an assault by a former male associate… earlier the same morning, he took his own life.”
With those words, it brought to a close one of the more controversial suicide deaths we’ve seen in recent history.
It also ended the Police investigation into suspicions he might have been killed and hung inside the church hall. Contacted for a comment, Police media officer Su’a Muliaga Tiumalu the Police respect the decision by the Coroner and that is final.
Now an interesting chapter in the history of this country called the death of Ioane Ipiniu, better known as Jeanine Tuivaiki, has become tightly shut. Which means that what led to his decision to take his life – if that’s indeed how he died – might never be known. And why he chose a church hall – of all places – will remain a mystery forever.
In a year where we’ve heard and witnessed many disturbing developments in this country – including wanton violence, robbery, thefts, rape and brutal murder - this was clearly one of the most bizarre incidents to have emerged for some time.
Indeed, it’s undeniable the death of Ipiniu shocked the nation. The media coverage following it certainly provided plenty of discussion points. Those discussions and online threads will continue for some time to come – possibly years.
Unfortunately, amidst the emotions and anger that followed, one of the questions that was hardly considered is the choice of place for Ipiniu to end his life. It’s tough not to be affected by it, especially the idea that of all places, someone would choose a church hall to die in such a manner. Surely there is a message.What that message is, we must try and understand. It should become part of our search for answers as we work as a community to save the next life. Ipiniu’s life was precious. While there is nothing we can do to bring him back, his death should be the catalyst for positive changes that could save the next life.
We’ve got to ask the questions: What drives a man to do such a thing? What emboldens a human being to end a precious life in that manner? In such a public place, a sacred one too?
Keep in mind that in this country today, there is no shortage of shocking incidents – including the growing number of suicide cases. They continue to boggle the poor old mind.
The fact is that not a week goes by without incidents of suicide being reported by the Police. For instance, just last week, there were at least three different cases of suicide confirmed by the Police.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s truly mind blowing when you stop to try to calculate the amount of suicides we’ve had this year.
Judging by the sheer numbers reported in the media lately, there is definitely something amiss in our society today. What that is we all have different answers.
In Samoa this month, we have been telling the world this is paradise. It’s not a lie. It’s true in many respects. We are telling people to come here because we are a friendly bunch living on a tranquil island who have nothing but smiles and love to offer.
But such bizarre incidents – including cases of suicides we continue to talk about - will inevitably tarnish that image. They also destroy the positive contributions others have worked hard to achieve.
Which brings us back to square one. We’ve asked these questions before and we’ll ask them again today. We do this in the spirit of raising questions so we can take the time to think, process our thoughts and start a conversation about addressing some of the underlying issues responsible for these bizarre incidents.
Has Samoan society become too harsh a place to cope for some people?
Is the message from the Church about forgiveness, love, compassion and kindness no longer able to appease troubled minds and souls?
Are church leaders walking the talk or have they all become professors in the Bible so that they are merely expert preachers these days?
Where are the matai and the village leaderships? What are they doing?
Do they realise how much power they have to make a positive difference in the lives of people by wielding their authority appropriately?
Are they not responsible for the culture of fear within villages, which in return breeds anger and frustrations that so often results in death and destruction?
As for our families; what is happening inside our homes?
Do parents have any more time for their children?
Do the children know that they are to respect their parents? Are husbands investing time, money and resources in loving their wives? Are the wives in return respecting their husbands?
Lastly, where is the government in all this?
What are our political leaders doing to change the climate of death we see in society today?
Do they not know that the people will only follow the examples they see from their leaders?
Why are they continuing to ignore instances of corruption, abuse of power and mismanagement of public resources and monies that ultimately lead to hardship and poverty enslaving our people?
It’s time to wake up and be the change. Have a wonderful Wednesday Samoa, God bless!
Where to get help
• Fa’ataua le Ola Lifeline: 800 5433
• Samoa Victim Support Group: 800 7874
• Police: 22222 or 995