Samoan Matua’s communicating suicide prevention
The ‘Mātua project’ led by Dot Greenfield from Vaka Tautua, builds awareness among Samoan Mātua of the issues being faced by Pacific communities relating to suicide and other challenging issues, such as mental health or intergenerational dynamics. The project is funded through Le Va’s FLO community fund.
The project has been built around interactive sessions with older Samoan and Pasifika people to enable safe, well-informed discussions about barriers to building resilience, and the role they have in supporting protective factors within families and communities. Additionally, the project looked to develop a workshop framework around the issue of suicide prevention for a group of Samoan Mātua.
Meetings with a group of Samoan Mātua shaped the workshop design, and the development of resources and guidelines. Additional stages of this project include training facilitators to use the workshop resources i.e. DVD clips, and in-turn deliver the workshops to their own communities. Two pilot workshops were held with 80 attendees, and a further five facilitators have attended the training for guidance on how to best use the DVD resources.
The workshops have had an overwhelmingly positive response, with all participants agreeing that the…
workshop was a safe and effective way to connect and communicate”
In regards more specifically to suicide prevention, all strongly agreed the workshop had,,,
given them better understanding, hope and courage to take action.”
Many commented that the resources were engaging, humourous and insightful in initiating topics that elder Samoan people have wanted to discuss but found difficult to know where to start, in particular with their own youthful grandchildren, for fear of not being able to connect effectively.
Through the sharing of their own experiences and views, many mātua said they had been educated on how to do better in their own families by learning from each other. Culturally many of the topics that are discussed are normally laughed off or just not discussed, so this programme brought them out into the open to be addressed. Mātua were open about their difficulties after seeing the videos which depicted real life family scenarios.
Furthermore, the workshops have empowered Mātua to take a proactive leadership role in their families to address issues around relationships and communication.
Finally, feedback from Mātua participants was reflective of the importance of the grandparent to grandchildren relationship; how it is a particularly powerful one, and that if parents are busy and leave much of the parenting to the grandparents they need to be able to grow a good relationship with grandchildren.