Time to stop the needless waste of precious lives

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Two months, two deaths, similar circumstances. 

But this is just the tip of the iceberg folks! 

The fact is there are many more problems out there escaping the radar and under reported in relation to the abuse of alcohol in this country. 

It’s alarming and it cannot be ignored.

We say this because to lose one life is bad enough. And yet the idea that someone is killed every month – or in some cases every couple of weeks - as a result of these so-called drinking sessions going wrong is disturbing. 

As a nation, we cannot view this as normal. 

It is frightening and it should concern us all with the idea that it has got to be stopped one way or another.

Now sometime ago, a 31-year-old man from the villages of Sogi and Saoluafata was killed as a result of a drinking session.

Police Spokesperson Su’a Muliaga Tiumalu told the Samoa Observer then that the men were drunk; they must have gotten into an argument and eventually a fight. One of the men was hospitalised and he did not make it.

That was last month.

Now just in yesterday’s newspaper was another story of yet one more drinking session turning into a tragedy.

This time, a 34-year-old male from Aleipata has been charged with murder in relation to the death of 45-year-old male from the same village. The man had allegedly killed another using a 2x4 piece of wood. 

 “The two men had a drinking session in front of the deceased’s house,” Su’a said.

 “However, the accused and the deceased had a dispute and that’s when the accused hit the deceased with a 2x4 wood. The deceased died from severe injuries to his skull.”

By the way these are only two of many cases that have been reported on the pages of this newspaper during the past few months. 

Which is a real tragedy because we are not just talking about some numbers, we are talking about precious lives being wasted as a result of alcohol being mishandled – and in most cases abused. 

We are talking about sons, brothers, fathers and breadwinners for these families. We are talking about people who are loved and have a lot to live for and yet in the spur of the moment, their lives are wasted. It’s heartbreaking. Many of the victims are fathers. Their deaths leave their children fatherless forever. Wives become widows and families lose valuable members.

When will it end? And how do we end it?

The issue of alcohol abuse is a complex matter. There are many factors and there are hundreds of researches out there about why people abuse alcohol.

From our standpoint, it’s undeniable that accessing alcohol is not only easily accesible in Samoa – it is too cheap. Anyone, anywhere – including young children – can buy alcohol. And that’s where the problem is. 

When we talk about dealing with the abuse of alcohol, we need to address the issue of accessing alcohol and the availability of alcohol. It goes without saying that if it cannot be accessed, there is nothing to abuse.

But we all know how easy it is to get completely blasted in Samoa for less than $15 tala. Some of these spirits are readily available from any shop anywhere.

They are lethal. I don’t think they were meant to be taken as alcohol. 

In the hands of the wrong person, it is without a doubt a license for stupidity and eventually to kill. 

And this is in a country where we hardly ever hear about any public campaign on drinking responsibly. 

Folks, when anyone can access alcohol anywhere so cheaply, the results will always be devastating. And that’s what we are seeing.

The problem is that our eyes and ears have become so immune to hearing and reading about these tragic stories about drinking sessions going wrong that some of us think it’s just the way it is. 

It doesn’t have to be that way.

We know that every time we’ve raised this issue about alcohol consumption time and time again, the simple message always is that if you cannot handle alcohol, don’t touch it. 

Drink water or a niu. 

But then we need to do more. Way more.

What do you think? Write and share your thoughts with us!

Have a safe weekend Samoa, God bless!

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