Pacific communities take a stand against suicide
Pacific communities in Porirua, north of New Zealand's capital, Wellington, are taking a stand against suicide in their community with a suicide prevention Fono organised on Saturday.
Pacific communities in Porirua, north of New Zealand's capital, Wellington, are taking a stand against suicide in their community.
On Saturday, a suicide prevention Fono, organised by various community health groups, was held in the city.
Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor went along.
DEBBIE BROWN: Suicide is very close to me, my cousin actually died from suicide and these days I see a lot of suicides happening - we are dedicating this song to a friend who died a couple of weeks ago from cyber bullying.
A beautiful song by Porirua College students Debbie Brown and Levao Oceania - dedicating their song to a friend who committed suicide only a few weeks ago. While suicide or depression are not topics widely discussed by Pacific families, on Saturday, at least 250 people from the Tongan, Tokelaun, Cook Islands, Samoa and Niuean groups came together to hear how they could help the young people in the community deal with these issues. The provisional suicide statistics for Porirua this year stand at nine. Wayne Laai, shared his story of losing a family member to suicide, he says it had a massive impact on his family.
WAYNE LAAI: It was really massive, it happened in 2008 but every day it seems like it happened yesterday.
He says as a young Pacific person, living in two worlds, is not as easy as many people believe.
WAYNE LAAI: Because if you really thing about it, youth have to battle with culture at home and then our culture at school.
The Fono's guest speaker, Mike King, opened up about his own battle with depression, addictions and his ongoing journey to recovery. He says silence is not the solution.
MIKE KING: It takes positive society attitudinal change, that's what needs to change, whenever we see suicide among the young people, we think it's a generational thing, and it is a generational thing, it's our generation that are not talking about it and making it taboo.
He says the voices of young people need to be heard. The Toko Collaboration Group was formed as a result of a spike in Tongan youth suicides in 2012, and a call from Tongan communities for a Tongan specific response. The group has worked with the support of Tongan communities throughout Auckland, Wellington, Blenheim and Christchurch to deliver bilingual youth suicide prevention workshops to Tongan youth and their families. The group's Alisi Tatafu explains.
ALISI TATAFU: So the programme is a collaborative effort with the parents there, and the youth, and they listen to one another by the end but in a really creative and innovative space, and they come up with their solutions.
While some of the information and stories seemed overwhelming for those at the Fono, Rochelle Nafatali, who presented Pacific youth suicide statistics, says just asking someone how they are and listening is a good way to start.
ROCHELLE NAFATALI: And from then from that so many people are relieved that someone has noticed their pain and then they will share and that begins to open up the line of communication and people are then able to refer people onto the services and places that can help.
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