Preventing Suicide for Pasifika - top 5 tactics

Published 26 March 2014

Preventing Suicide for Pasifika - top 5 tactics lists Le Va's top five tactics for helping to prevent Pasifika suicide, based on research, evidence and best practice. Download the wallet card from the downloads panel at the bottom of this page.

Connect
Strong families
Talk
Cultural identity
Spirituality

Ki te kotahi te kākaho ka whati, ki te kāpuia, e kore e whati.
If there is but one toetoe stem it will break, but if they are together in a
bundle they will never break.

Connect with people

Relationships are vital to our wellbeing. Relationships help us during tough times. Traditionally, for Māori and Pasifika cultures, good health and wellbeing cannot be separated from connection through relationships – relationships are sacred, characterised by Pasifika values of 'ofa, alofa, aro'a, aloha, aroha or love. Loving relationships make us feel connected, valued and give us a sense of self worth and help with self esteem.

Pay it forward – share a smile, a hug and hang out

When you’re feeling bad it’s tempting to pull the covers over your head and shut out the world. But it doesn’t actually help. It’s really important to stay connected to friends, whānau, school, work, nature and the world around you. It’s a fact that people who are connected, are more likely to be
happy!

You don’t need masses of friends to be happy - it’s the quality of relationships that matters, not how many friends you have on Facebook or followers on Twitter.

Connect with your emotions through music, art, and those with diverse experiences

If we have negative thoughts about ourselves, others or our future, it’s time to gather those we love around us. That's when we really need our relationships and supportive people to connect with us. They can help remind us that those negative thoughts and messages are not true. They can boost our confidence and make sure we feel accepted and supported. Doing fun stuff with caring mates and family makes us feel better!

Connect with nature

Don’t forget to go outside into the sun and connect with nature too. Spending time outside gives you much more than just a good change of scenery. It can help you relax and see things differently. Plus, you’ll get a good dose of fresh air and vitamin D (if the sun’s shining), and a better night’s sleep.

When you’re experiencing nature, it can take your mind off the things going on in your life because you’re absorbed in catching the next wave, enjoying the sun on your face or taking notice of the beauty that surrounds you. This is called mindfulness which is a really helpful tool for combating worrying thoughts.

Family are like branches on a tree – we all grow in different directions, but our roots remain as one.

Family is where life begins and love never ends

Our first relationships are with parents and family. That’s why the first three years of a child’s development are critical to his or her wellbeing. What will truly help children thrive? Along with food, warmth, shelter and clothing: feeling safe and secure; love and hugs; praise; smiles; positive encouragement; feeling heard; time and attention; and learning new things. 

Healthy relationships with family/aiga/kainga/whānau strengthen our wellbeing and resiliency – especially for young people. This is particularly true when there are stable family routines and there is a good emotional relationship with at least one person in the family.

Communication is the heartbeat to nurturing healthy family relationships. Find ways to have open, meaningful, supportive, non-judgmental conversations within your family. This will provide a safe space for children to reveal what stressors and pressures they have - such as peer pressure or bullying.

All family relationships have their ups and downs

Occasional tension or arguments are part of everyday family life. We can learn how to cope with conflict and get skills about how to sort it out. But ongoing family conflict can be really stressful and overwhelming. Everyone needs a safe place. It can be hard if family and home doesn’t feel like a safe and supportive place.

Family obligations (like giving money), intergenerational misunderstandings, unrealistic expectations, and harsh physical discipline can all contribute to stress, depression and anxiety. Sometimes it’s the little hassles from family, from what you wear to who you hang out with, that can seem unbearable. It may seem like no matter what you do, you can never please them.

There are some events that are known to be really stressful: like a divorce, a merged family, a new baby or moving to a new house. It’s well known that these things are really hard for anyone to cope with.

Effective parenting programmes can be life changing for all involved. Recognise, allow and accept experiences from all the generations in your family.

Talk means less stigma and encourages us to seek help.

Good communication is key to nurturing healthy relationships with friends, whānau, at school, or at work.

Talking helps us process thoughts and feelings and reach out for help when we need it

We can do that with all sorts of people: mates, a family member, a school teacher, a church minister, a helpline, or a sports coach. We need to talk to let others know what we’re going through.

Talking is really important if you’re feeling low – it can get stuff out of your head and remind you that things aren’t as bad as they seem.

Strong communication within families is a protective factor and makes us resilient during tough times.

If you’re not really up to talking about your problems to someone, you can do something where you don’t have to talk, like watching a movie or shooting some hoops.

Myth: Talking about suicide increases the risk

It's ok to talk. If we do it the right way, it can actually reduce risk.

Tooku kaainga te marae rotopu i toku ai tupuna e tooku ‘aanau'.
My home is the sacred centre of my ancestors and descendants.
(Cook Islands proverb)

Use your culture - don’t lose your culture

Culture gives us a sense of belonging, pride and identity.

There’s a source of power in your DNA.

For young Pacific people in New Zealand, the stronger their cultural identity, the stronger their mental wellbeing.

If we embrace and strengthen our cultural identity we strengthen wellbeing and have a happy life.

Learning more about your background gives you a better understanding of why you think, feel or act in certain ways. If the way you do these things is making you feel like you don’t fit in, try looking at it in a different way – the things that make you different also make you unique.

Knowing about your family history, ancestors and culture can help you know where you come from, and that’s a part of who you are. It can help you carry a sense of ‘home’ wherever you go, no matter where you are or who you are with.

The Samoan proverb 'O le gase a ala lalavao' translates as ‘The paths in the bush are never obliterated'. This means your ancestors are always watching over you just like big trees, to make sure the pathways to your culture are not overgrown. Knowledge about your culture is always waiting for you if you want to pursue it. The main thing is that you’re happy with how much of your culture/s you know right now, or you choose to engage with.

Have fun exploring your culture/s, but don’t feel like you have to be able to do certain things, like be a fluent speaker or know all the protocols in cultural occasions. Everyone engages with their own culture at different levels, and at different times in their lifetime, so it’s not an ‘all-or-nothing’ thing.

Faith in God or connecting with something bigger than ourselves can fuel positive emotions and support our sense of direction and meaning in life.

Many spiritual traditions encourage participation in a community, such as attending church or a meditation group – these can be great sources of social support which may provide a sense of belonging, and community.

In New Zealand the church can be like a marae for Pasifika people and act as a central hub for families and communities. Church elders and spiritual leaders are in an important position to play a role in supporting the wellbeing of individuals and families within their church.

Spirituality generates positive emotions

Spirituality is a personal journey of transformation, hope and courage. It can also be centred around one’s personal core values, such as love, respect, family and reciprocity.

Spirituality generates positive emotions, like a sense of generosity - and we feel good when we’re giving. Spirituality also encourages people to be optimistic, compassionate, show empathy, give thanks and express gratitude. Being grateful is strongly associated with greater happiness.

What three things are you grateful for today?

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Preventing suicide for Pasifika Top 5 Tactics - wallet card

Published 21 March 2018

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