Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and the Department of Human and Social Services is holding a candlelight ceremony at Lee Auditorium to remember lives lost to suicide, show support for the loved ones they live behind and promote services to prevent suicides.
There’s no official numbers on suicides in the territory and the only information that KHJ news has relied on for reports have come from family members, friends of the victims and in recent cases, health officials.
Acting Director of Human and Social Services, Josephine Lutali, says DHSS has also not been able to get data from the Department of Public Safety, which has cited that cases are under investigation.
From the information we’ve received from family members and friends there have been at least five suicides in the last two months.
The program for this morning features a keynote address by First Lady Cynthia Malala Moliga.
Other than government departments, service organizations and churches, students from high schools and the American Samoa Community College have also been invited.
In a message for World Suicide Prevention Day, the leader of the Catholic Church in American Samoa Bishop Peter Brown said, “With great sadness we continue to see our young people take their own lives for many complicated reasons.
There are no simple answers. But each and everyone of us can accept responsibility to create a community around us that emphasises the dignity of all, not just me and my rights. In this community, where the common good of all is paramount, we create a place that supports our young people so that they never feel alone in the depth of their pain.
Bishop Brown continued that World Suicide Prevention Day is “a day when the world community is reminded of this international cry for help from our youth.
“Please talk with your kids. Listen to them, lead but don’t judge and tell them you love them often, no matter what age.”