Commentary on ‘Cultural Diversity Across the Pacific’: Samoan Cultural Constructs of Emotion, New Zealand-Born Samoan Youth Suicidal Behaviours, and Culturally Competent Human Services

  • Jemaima Tiatia
  • Journal of Pacific Rim Psychology, November 2012, Cambridge University Press
  • DOI: 10.1017/prp.2012.9

Suicide: Samoans and Emotions

What is it about?

A recent special section on cultural diversity across the Pacific, in this journal, highlighted the need for greater alignment between human services and cultural diversity in the region. Alignment entails detailing a local context. Samoan cultural constructs of emotion, particularly anger and shame, may precede suicidal behaviours among New Zealand-born (NZ-born) Samoan youth. These behaviours can stem from perceived ruptures in family unity, as youth partly identify with majority norms. A barrier to integration faced by acculturating youth is that the young person either lives with the shame of their offence, or avoids it by taking their life. It seems Samoan cultural constructs of emotion must be considered in effective service delivery for this population.

Why is it important?

Suicide prevention should focus on developing culturally competent tools tailored for NZ-born Samoan youth, so they may communicate their feelings without fear of disrupting cultural prescriptions and expectations, as well as functioning successfully in both the Samoan and Western worlds.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath

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