3 May 2011

Lack of self-esteem hurts Guam's Chamorro

6:45 pm on 3 May 2011

A leader of Guam's indigenous Chamorro people says a lack of self-esteem has led to their over-representation in suicide statistics.

Statistics from Guam's Mental Health Department show Chamorro were slightly over-represented in suicide rates from 2000 to 2007, while all four students from the Southern High School area who committed suicide in the last school year were Chamorro.

The tribal leader of the Chamorro nation, the Magahaga, Debbie Quinata, says issues contributing to the suicides such as drug abuse, poverty and educational failure are symptoms of deeper problems.

"We have issues with identity and issues of self-esteem and this has been a problem for a good many decades and this contributes to the high rate of suicide that we have with Chamorro children or young adults."

Debbie Quinata says Guam's colonisers have made Chamorro children feel inferior and lack regard for their lives.