I have now been in Fiji for about a week and I have to let you know that it is slowly becoming familiar. I am getting familiar with the language and warming up to Fiji’s up beat and welcoming culture. Everyone is warm and constantly smiling and making jokes…could be about me, not sure yet but I am liking it.
This week I did a number of pre-work training and got to meet the Fijian counterparts that I will be working alongside. I also got to visit the four organisations that I will be working with. It was a super busy week to say the least.
What really shocked me most after completing my training, was realizing that Fiji is considered to have the highest suicide rates in the world!!!
What??? Yes, exactly what I said.
Fiji is a paradise when it comes to how beautiful the landscape is as well as the people. The culture is such that, they are very family and community oriented however; there is an underlying issue that is definitely not being prioritised to cause this statistics.
According to Lifeline Fiji, the youngest recorded victim of suicide is 8 years old in 2012 and a 10 year old who completed the suicide in 2016. To add on this, we are only still in January 2017 and the current stats are at 6 which does not include those who just attempted the suicide… can you imagine?
It was evident after visiting the four organisations which are focused on Mental Health Wellness, that this issue is still not considered a priority by the leaders for certain reasons. The organisations that cater for the promotion of mental health wellness are non- government not for profit and survive on grants and donations. The people who work for them are mostly non paid volunteers who are very passionate and driven. I was really empowered by the volunteers who work for these organisations, not only do they face having to do their job without the appropriate financial support, they also face stigma from the community.
Below are other stats from Lifeline Fiji
- Every 36 hours, a Fijian attempts to take his/her life
- Average of 124 suicides per year in Fiji and 630 suicides in the last 5 years
- Suicide is among the three leading causes of death in the 15 – 24 years old age group.
- It has been estimated that for every 1 completed suicide, 20 additional attempts are made which are usually not recorded.
These stats give you a bit of an idea of what is happening and the urgency it deserves. I will continue journaling my experience while I am here so make sure you keep an eye for more posts.