Maxwell, Ch. 2: Exercise 2.1

Having been to Fiji, I found the dichotomous population fascinating.  Seeing these two sets of people living together, yet separate. They do not intermarry, and attend separate schools and churches. They live side by side, yet seldom mix, like oil and water.

I found my topic, not out of interest in the population necessarily, but out of a desire to go to Fiji. My husband works in either Fiji or Tonga every summer and the children and I often go with him. He has a field school planned for Fiji next summer and it would be very difficult for me to plan a practicum here in Vancouver with him being absent. However, if I could find a project in Fiji, I could do my practicum potentially and keep our family together.

I started researching public health and Fiji to see what I could find. I looked at suicide rates first because I had identified suicide as an area that was in need of attention on my graduate application. I was astonished to find that the nature of suicide in Fiji was markedly different from other countries and worldwide trends. Men more often than women (3:1) commit suicide, but Indian women in Fiji have equal or higher rates of suicide.

I empathize very strongly with people who struggle with suicidal thoughts. I have a close family member and another close friend who have struggled with either suicidal thoughts or have actually attempted to take their own life.  As a teenager I remember feeling mildly suicidal, so sad, frustrated, angry and helpless. The feelings were almost overwhelming. My homeroom teacher in Grade 12 lost his son that year to suicide. It was a profoundly sad experience for the whole school and I remember it vividly.

As for goals, I would love to be able to look at this population of women and investigate what it is that is causing so many more women to commit suicide. Sadly, suicide is a part of the human condition and usually a by-product of mental illness. 90% of suicides are said to be caused by a mental disorder or illness of some kind.

Are these Indian women prone to higher levels of mental illness? Depression? Anxiety? Bi polar?

I think my personal experiences with suicide make me empathic towards this population and thus motivated to look for answers.

Potentially, these feelings and my already unusual level of emotionality could cause me to have trouble with the subject matter and to remain passive. However, I don’t think that being passive is always a good thing.