11 Sep 2015

Fiji PM seeks national effort to halt youth suicide

12:07 pm on 11 September 2015

Prime minister Frank Bainimarama has described child and youth suicide in Fiji at crisis levels following the suicides of three primary school students last week.

Fiji prime minister Frank Bainimarama

Fiji prime minister Frank Bainimarama Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Speaking at the opening of the Principals Association Conference yesterday, which is also World Suicide Prevention Day, Mr Bainimarama spoke about the need to act urgently as a nation.

Of the 89 suicides in Fiji so far this year, 10 were of children under the age of 16, while another 20 people between the ages of 17 and 25 also took their own lives.

Of the 80 attempted suicides over the same period, seven of those involved children under the age of 16. Another 35 of them were aged between 17 and 25.

The prime minister acknowledged that it is only now that Fiji is starting to institute the kind of measures that should have been put in place years ago.

Mr Bainimarama said that while a range of counselling services and initiatives already exist, he'd instructed every instrument of Government to improve its response to youth suicide.

Since a Child Helpline was set up in January, the service has taken 400 genuine calls from young people who needed help.

The number is 1325 and calls to it are free from any landline or mobile.

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