As Samoans, we’re known as friendly and happy people. Visitors to these shores are impressed and marvel at our ability to offer a smile, acknowledge them and wave simply because that is who we are.
We are a personable lot, which is a beautiful trait to have.
But beneath that smiling face and happy go lucky personality lies a very dark problem we cannot ignore today. Depression and suicidal thoughts are masked and when some of us feel we can no longer take it, the unthinkable happens.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about this menace called suicide. It is real and so many people around us are at risk.
Depression, when it is not dealt with, leads to suicide.
Anger and frustrations allowed to boil and not controlled can be deadly.
The question is do we have a problem with this in Samoa?
The answer is an emphatic yes.
While we might be the happy people, the disturbing truth is that every year suicide kills far more people – of all ages – than we care to think about.
It goes without saying suicide is one of our biggest problems we have today.
What causes suicide?
There are many causes.
According to Physiologist, Dr. Alex Lickerman, there are six reasons people commit suicide.
“They’re depressed,” he writes. “This is without question the most common reason people commit suicide. Severe depression is always accompanied by a pervasive sense of suffering as well as the belief that escape from it is hopeless.
“They’re psychotic. Malevolent inner voices often command self-destruction for unintelligible reasons.
“They’re impulsive. Often related to drugs and alcohol, some people become maudlin and impulsively attempt to end their own lives. Once sobered and calmed, these people usually feel emphatically ashamed.
“They’re crying out for help, and don’t know how else to get it. These people don’t usually want to die but do want to alert those around them that something is seriously wrong.
“They have a philosophical desire to die. The decision to commit suicide for some is based on a reasoned decision, often motivated by the presence of a painful terminal illness from which little to no hope of reprieve exists.
“They’ve made a mistake. This is a recent, tragic phenomenon in which typically young people flirt with oxygen deprivation for the high it brings and simply go too far. The only defense against this, it seems to me, is education.”
Of course there might be more reasons. But Dr. Lickerman gives us a good base to understand why suicide exists. The scary part is that each and everyone of us would know someone in these categories.
Which is we cannot be ignorant about helping ourselves and helping others who might display some of these symptoms.
Yesterday during International Suicide Awareness day was an opportunity to think about some of these causes. We have placed a wonderful article by Papali’i Carol Ah Chong on page 2 of the newspaper you are reading because it carries a powerful message all of us should read.
Why should we read it, someone might ask?
Well the simple truth is that no one is immune. We are all vulnerable. While young people as history dictates are especially at risk, recent trend shows that more and more adults are committing suicide for one reason or another.
What this tells us is that to address suicide, something everyone has a role to play. People who are at risk need to know that there is help available. And people who are not affected must also know how they can help people at risk.
Faataua le Ola carries a strong message we want to share with everyone again today as we start this week.
“F.L.O. hopes to convey to Samoa and to the World, a message of “life”, a message of “faith”, a message of “hope”, a message of “love” to anyone who is suffering alone in the darkness of despair, hopelessness and desperation,” Papali’i said.
“You may feel that you are alone and that no one cares, but we want to tell you that you are never alone, that there is always someone who is willing to listen and to help you, because God loves you and values your life, for you are the temple of His Holy Spirit. He will never forsake you.”
Well we couldn’t agree more. In this world, we have to make a lot of choices. Suicide is a choice. No one should have to make that choice. The key is stopping people from reaching the point where that choice is even a consideration.
It starts with everyone. One simple step is just to be nice to people – even your enemies. You never know what he/she might be going through. That simple smile, hello or how are you might just save them from making that choice.
Stay safe Samoa and have a peaceful week, God bless!