Suicide in Micronesia: A New Twist to an Old Problem




Father Francis X. Hezel, SJ
Former Director of Micronesian Seminar

Thursday, February 23, 2017
East-West Center

Suicide in Micronesia: A New Twist to an Old Problem from East-West Center on Vimeo.

Micronesia has shown escalating rates of suicide since the late 1960s. The suicide epidemic was sometimes attributed to changes in island social organization driven by rapid modernization. During the past year, a research team directed by the speaker gathered new data on suicide in FSM, completing a database documenting a full 50 years of suicide rates on the islands. The most current information, which also includes FSM suicides on Guam, highlights recent trends in the islands, many of them encouraging. Yet, it also underscores challenges in the years ahead. Finally, analysis of the new data points to an area of inquiry that could prove promising in future research: disrupted families.

Father Fran Hezel, whose seminal books include The First Taint of Civilization, Strangers in their Own Land, and The New Shape of Old Island Cultures, has lived and worked in Micronesia since 1963—first at Chuuk’s influential Xavier High School and then as founder and Director of the church–sponsored research institution the Micronesian Seminar (MicSem) in Pohnpei. Fr. Hezel serves the Catholic Church in Guam and continues to write profusely and blogs about regional issues on a regular basis (

Rate this article: 
Average: 3.5 (13 votes)


Father Hezel is always active in important research regarding the FSM and is a great educator. I have learned a lot about Micronesia over the years from his work at MicSem and more recent videos such as this one.

Add new comment