26 May 2006

Government and communities praised for helping Samoa suicide rates drop

3:50 pm on 26 May 2006

The director of Samoa's anti-suicide group Fa'ataua Le Ola, or FLO, has praised the government and community leaders for their role in helping reduce the national suicide rate.

FLO has announced that suicide rates in Samoa have fallen below the world average.

Samoa has had to battle with unacceptably high suicide rates with a high of 49 suicides in 1981, but the figure has dropped over the past four years and equalled the 1960s low of 10 in 2005.

Ofeira Salevao-Manutai says Samoa had the dubious reputation of being the suicide capital of the Pacific, and the country with the third highest suicide rate in the world.

But she says the FLO has had the collective support of government and religious leaders among others in reducing the rates and addressing suicide issues openly.

"All the different sectors, involved and very supportive of the work of our organisation, are now stepping forward to make sure that we work together on this problem. And I think that's why we're having good results now. But the challenge for our organisation is the sustenance, is for us to sustain the decrease year after year."

Ofeira Salevao-Manutai