7 Jan 2006

Concern at rate of suicides in French Polynesia

7:22 am on 7 January 2006

Two men in their 30s hanged themselves in French Polynesia on New Year's Eve, highlighting a purported increase in suicides.

Health officials say there are about 25 suicides and some 200 attempted suicides each year in the territory.

One of the founders of the association SOS Suicide, Olivier de Longeaux, claims the actual figures are probably higher.

Mr de Longeaux works as a psychiatrist at Taaone in a suburb of the capital, Papeete, and he claims the hospital receives between four and five attempted suicide cases each week.

Writing in the newspaper, Les Nouvelles de Tahiti, Mr de Longeaux says there are also a significant number of patients that have to be examined by psychiatrists.

SOS Suicide Polynesia says 20 to 25 year-olds are most at risk, with suicide the second most common cause of death for that age group after traffic accidents.

A Suicide Prevention Day is set to be held next month in Tahiti.