…273 attempted cases reported
… Govt’s lack of response criticised
Over a two-year period, some 56 Essequibians have committed suicide, signalling the need for more mental health workshops, counselling centres and the active involvement of the Private Sector in curbing the worrying issue of suicide in Essequibo.
This is according to statistics provided by the Suddie Public Hospital statistical department in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam).
According to records from the statistical department, the practice claimed 27 lives in 2015 and 29 in 2016, with 143 attempted cases in 2015 and 130 cases in 2016. Hospital records shows that the most prevalent method used was the consumption of poisonous substances and most cases were as a result of domestic and/or abusive relationships.
In the past, key stakeholders and several religious organisations joined the fight against the social ill; however, there is still need for the continuation of these programmes and workshops.
People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Region Two Councillor, Arnold Adams, who is also Head of the Regional Health and Sanitation Committee, said he is appalled by the number of suicide cases within the region. Adams, who presented a report from the last meeting of the Sanitation Committee said a report was submitted to him by a statistical officer on the figures.
Based on reports, the majority of the victims were of East Indian descent, with domestic violence playing a major part in their decisions to take their lives. Persons with chronic diseases were also among the victims. Statistics indicate that most of the victims consumed poisonous substances but others also drank kerosene and overdosed on medications.
Adams said that many organisations tried counselling, but that has proven ineffective to some extent in slowing the rate of suicide.
The Councillor said their needs to be an in-depth analysis of the scourge and called on religious leaders from various faith-based organisations to advise young people as well as give guidance and support where needed. Adams said suicide is not the way out and persons should confide in someone or ‘always keep God close’.
The regional Councillor is also urging victims of domestic violence to seek help from counselling centres and mental health clinics, insisting that they report domestic violence matters to the Police. He also strongly urged those abused not to drop the cases against their abusers when it reaches the court.
Records indicate the region’s suicide victims were both males and females, ranging in ages from 14 years to 66; with the majority being female. Two persons along the Essequibo Coast have so far taken their lives in 2017.
Meanwhile, Government has received heavy criticism from several stakeholders including The Caribbean Voice which has always called for the reimplementation of the Gatekeepers Programme.
The organisation in a recent statement pointed out that of the programmes introduced to deal with suicide, in its estimation, the initiative that holds the greatest potential for reducing the incidence of suicide is the Gatekeepers Programme. Here, individuals from communities concerned about the scourge are trained by professionals so that suicidal persons will have culturally compatible persons to whom they can turn.
The Caribbean Voice noted the views the Health Ministry’s ‘suicide deterrent measures’ which were introduced with a certain degree of skepticism. For one, efforts to ensure that existing laws and regulations regarding pesticide sale, use and storage, are being enforced, will have no impact unless these attempts are part of a concerted pesticide suicide prevention strategy, such as the Shri Lankan Hazard Reduction Model, which has been lobbied for by The Caribbean Voice since 2015, and which is, by far, the most successful pesticide suicide reduction plan ever. “We strongly believe that should Guyana approach the World Health Organisation, a similar level of assistance may be offered as was available to Shri Lanka,” the organisation pointed out. (Guyana Times)