“In 2017, by the time we hit November, as a country 90 people thought it was better for them to leave this planet. Ninety people thought it was okay to take their own lives and did so. Out of those 90 cases, several people thought that was the better option because of something they had seen or read about themselves on social media,” she said.
The Online Safety Commission is working towards building relationships with key organizations in a bid to prevent suicide.
Addressing participants at the Ministry of Youth and Sport’s first divisional conference in Nadi, Commissioner Anne Dunn Baleilevuka noted the sensitivities surrounding suicide cases and the impact of social media in suicide-related behaviour.
“It’s a very sensitive and taboo topic. But if words have power – the words that are typed and words that we speak – to affect you, so much so that life and death can be spoken over a life, then these cases should not go down in vain,” she said.
In the same year, seven cases of cyber bullying were reported at the Fiji Women’s Crisis Center, Mrs Baleilevuka noted.
The Commission has met with Lifeline Fiji, a local NGO providing 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
With more than half of Fijians now having access to internet and 62 percent of the population aged below 35, Fijian youths remain an important component of society. Mrs Baleilevuka urged participants of the Western Youth Conference to protect their sense of peace against cyber bullying, particularly as local authorities have limited powers to remove adverse content that affect Fijians on major social media sites such as Facebook.
Baleilevuka said they seek to achieve a 48-hour turnaround time similar to foreign counterparts, the Office of the eSafety Commission in Australia and NetSafe in New Zealand, and is rolling out a portal with prescribed forms for complaints.