Commonwealth Point of Light 75. Jeremaia Qalobulailakeba
Jeremaia Merekula Qalobulailakeba, representing Fiji, is the driving force behind ‘Lifeline Fiji’, a charity providing 24-hour access to suicide prevention services in a country which has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.
Under Jeremaia’s leadership the charity has engaged 87,300 Fijians in outreach sessions, social media campaigns and mental health training. He facilitates workshops to provide the attendees with psychosocial support, crisis intervention, and telephone counselling. Jeremaia also leads fundraising initiatives in order to support national health campaigns and secure the longevity of the charity’s vital work.
Jeremaia Merekula Qalobulailakeba said:
“It is an incredible honour and privilege to be nominated for this prestigious Commonwealth Points of Light Award. I extend my most sincere Vinaka Vakalevu (gratitude) to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, for recognising the work we do in Fiji around Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.
“To the world we are perceived as the most resilient people, who smile through every situation that we go through, however we are a population that suppress our stresses and struggles every single day.
“Over the years, suicide has risen to become the leading cause of death amongst our youths. Research indicates that in Fiji for every 36 hours, a person attempts to kill themselves; this is at an average of 80 suicides per year. Our national statistics indicate that suicide is four times more than the road death toll which makes mental health a real concern for us in Fiji and we continue to push for this to be a priority.
“On a much happier note, I would like to acknowledge ‘Lifeline Fiji and Youth Champs 4 Mental Health’ for the tremendous work they do in advocating for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. This award is a salute to all the advocates who have devoted their lives to the cause and a recognition of our hard work and commitment on this journey to save lives.”
Melanie Hopkins, UK High Commissioner in Fiji said:
“Too often mental health issues are out of sight and out of mind. This is why the work of volunteers to help young people is so vital. What is outstanding about Jeremiah’s work is the extent and breadth of his public engagement. This reach is vital in tackling mental health issues across society. I am delighted that Jeremiah’s voluntary commitment to improving the mental health of Fijians has been recognised and hope his commitment inspires others.”
Pictured below: Jeremaia with his award