13 Dec 2003

Suicide statistics on rise in Marshall Islands

2:23 pm on 13 December 2003

The suicide rate in the Marshall Islands has skyrocketed to its highest level, with a more than 60 percent increase over the number of cases, both attempted and completed in 2002.

The Ministry of Health's Gerard Mejbon says that a suicide earlier in the week brings the total for the country to 23 this year.

Mr Mejbon says this compares with 14 suicides in the Marshalls in the 2002.

He says in all there have been 37 reported suicide attempts this year.

The Marshalls has an estimated population of around 56-thousand.

Marie Maddison, who is supervising a groundbreaking study on domestic violence against women, says the suicide numbers are a result of poor education.

Ms Maddison says many children are being raised by children in urban areas which is leading to numerous problems including domestic violence and suicide.

Ministry of Health statistics show that nearly 20 percent of births in 2002 were to teenage mothers.

Meanwhile a national suicide watch was declared this week by a newly formed Marshall Islands Counselling Assocation from December the 15th to January the 15th.

Spokesperson Francine Ross, says this is because historically the Marshalls experiences an increase in suicide attempts during the holiday season.