35 deaths spark call to action

Wednesday September 11, 2019 Written by Published in Health
19090912 Quote: “It’s about saving lives.” – Mereana Taikoko 19090912 Quote: “It’s about saving lives.” – Mereana Taikoko

There is one young girl that Mereana Taikoko always remembers: the girl was bullied in school and teetering on the edge of suicide.


“In those days we didn’t really know how to go about suicide prevention but we wanted to make contact and let her know that somebody cared,” Taikoko remembers

Anyone could have depression, she said. And in Taikoko’s day, peer pressure was not a big thing I now, she admits, she is having to learn more ways to help young people.

Two or three Cook Islanders are taking their own lives every year – a rate double that of New Zealand.

There were 35 suicides between 2005 and 2018, including 28 males and 7 females.

Twenty-four of those suicides happened on Rarotonga, five in Aitutaki, four in Mangaia, one in Atiu and one in Mitiaro.

Taikoko,  chief executive officer of suicide prevention organisation Te Kainga O Pa Taunga, was down at BSP yesterday with an information booth as part of World Suicide Prevention Day.

This is an awareness day observed on September 10 every year to provide a worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides.

“It’s about saving lives,” said Taikoko.

She hopes suicide rates for the Cook Islands will not increase and further, and for there to be open discussions around depression and how to get help.

However, the number of suspected suicide attempts has increased.

Taikoko said there was a lack of support from families who thought their youth were just rebelling, and they only become aware when something serious happens.

Some warning signs could be drug and alcohol abuse, anger, lack of energy, feeling anxious and hopeless.

This week Te Kainga will be conducting community health talks around the villages.

·         If you need support for yourself or someone else you can contact Te Kainga on 20162 or 50633.

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