10 Apr 2013

Death still better than shame in Samoa

6:43 pm on 10 April 2013

The head of Samoa suicide prevention organisation, Fa'ataua Le Ola, says despite a drop in the number of young people killing themselves, the traditional ethos that death is better than shame persists.

Fa'ataua Le Ola has been instrumental in reducing Samoa's suicide rate, which was the highest in the Pacific and the third highest in the world when its 24-hour centre opened in 2000.

Papali'i Caroline Paul-Ah Chong says a deadly aversion to bringing shame on one's family has always been a big part of Samoan culture.

But she says increasing exposure to the outside world and to education is making it harder for today's young people.

"Unfortunately when they go back into the family setting, most especially into the village setting, they're up against this pressure from their parents to do as they're told and like I said they should be seen to be doing what they're told and not have a voice."

Papali'i Caroline Paul-Ah Chong says Fa'atau Le Ola is concentrating on educating young people not to put the same pressure on their own children.