End Adolescent Suicide in American Samoa
Organized by: Dianna Georgina
“My mother used to scold me a lot and she would always beat me up. She treated me differently and so I decided to cut myself on the arms and neck but they never noticed.”
“I was depressed; I would cry myself to sleep and cut myself. It felt wrong to be doing it but at the time I was doing it I felt nothing. Cutting myself makes the pain go away."
American Samoa is an unincorporated U.S. Territory in the South Pacific. While it seems like a paradise, to one in four adolescents, it's a nightmare they are willing to kill themselves to escape. We are trying to understand why so many of these kids feel this way. For comparison, only about 13% of American adolescents seriously consider suicide and make a plan.
Talk therapy programs that are effective in the U.S. are not culturally relevant in American Samoa, where Polynesian culture dictates that individuals don't talk about their feelings. Our program, based on our research, provides other ways for adolescents to feel relevant, to feel like they belong, and have a reason to live.