There is major concern over the continuing high rate of suicides in Fiji, particularly by young people.
Last year there were more than 160 suicides and attempted suicides in the island nation, most by people under the age of 25.
Police have reported that eight of those who committed suicide and twenty who attempted suicide were 16 or under.
Youth councillor with Youth Champs for Mental Health, a youth group advocating and promoting mental health issues in Fiji, Lionel Rodgers, told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program that young people are just not being heard.
“Many of our young people are turning to suicide because of negative coping mechanisms,” Mr Rodgers said.
“There are very few awareness programs going on whereby they get to be themselves and voice their opinions, and speak out about issues they are facing.”
Mr Rodgers says the programs run by Youth Champs are trying to teach children coping mechanisms, but they need more funding.
“We’re seeking funding from almost all organisations that we know that could spare us something,” Mr Rodgers said.
“But without this funding we’re unable to do these projects, and unable to help these young people who are crying out for them.”
Similar concerns were recently raised in Pacific Islander communities in New Zealand.
ABC Radio Australia