Samoa needs more suicide prevention programmes

As the world celebrated World Suicide Prevention Day earlier this week, non-governmental organization, Faataua Le Ola (F.L.O.) - which means “value life” - wants Samoa to become part of this awareness campaign.

F.L.O’s Executive Director, Papalii Tiumalu Caroline Paul-Ah Chong, said the global day dedicated to stopping suicide is a reminder that society needs consistent and increasing advocacy for mental health resources.

“Suicide is a sensitive topic that a lot of people are not willing to discuss. And not necessarily everyone who is in trouble cries out for help," Papalii said. 

“What's important is that we listen to the people that ask for help, and keep our eyes open for those who seem to need a friend.”

F.L.O-conducted research on suicide in Samoa discovered that, from 2015-2018, a total of 84 people had lost their lives to suicide with the number of males much higher than females.

“The youth from ages 12-35 are most at risk and an average number of suicides a year is 20 cases," Papalii said. 

“Its aim is to bring attention to the problem of suicide to the public’s attention and to help society do what it can to prevent suicides now and in the future".

“And the common cause of suicide in Samoa is relationships: it has been the common cause over the past four to five years – married couples, young teens, parents versus children, - biggest factor is lack of communication between people.

“[The] F.L.O. conducted an independent study on suicide prevention programmes and strategies in Samoa in early 2016 because suicide rates in Samoa have decreased since the peak in the 1980’s, but have fluctuated rather than decreased in the last 20 years.”

The study examined the current suicide prevention resources and what might be done to better support the community needs with regards to suicide prevention. 

“Training and techniques utilised by counsellors, the role of religion and family in suicide prevention, youth suicide, mental illness and suicide were discussed. 

“It was found that the strengths of Samoa’s suicide prevention are the diversity and accessibility of resources and the cultural appropriateness of the counseling. 

“The weaknesses are the lack of funding and resources available for stakeholder organisations, the inconsistent counseling training and methods, the lack of follow up and the lack of educational programmes.”

She added that F.L.O. has been and continues to be an advocate for suicide awareness and prevention in Samoa, especially amongst the youth, who are the most vulnerable. 

“FLO works to empower the youth of Samoa to live a life founded on God and grounded in faith, which is the foundation our forefathers built Samoa’s independence upon “Fa’avae I Le Atua Samoa” (Samoa is founded on God). 

F.L.O. was established in 2000 in response to the Samoan community’s concern regarding the increasing rate of suicide in Samoa. F.L.O. is in the forefront when dealing with problematic social issues which could lead to suicide and is recognized as a leading organization for suicide awareness and prevention. To provide information, services and support to assist in the prevention of suicide

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