With the intent to curb the rising incidence of suicide across the country, the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha has intensified its awareness and intervention efforts.
Teams headed by President of the Dharmic Sabha, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, met with wide cross-sections of communities in Essequibo and Berbice on January 23rd and 31st respectively through the Sabha’s outreach programmes.
A statement from the Sabha said the sessions were attended by men and women of all ages and backgrounds, youth including school children, representatives from the Region and teachers.
The outreach included general and group sessions and attendees had the opportunity to raise their concerns and share their views frankly. Dialogues on suicide and other ills in society ensued and persons shared their views on why this was occurring in their particular communities. In addition, presentations on suicide and other associated illnesses; depression, concurrent mental health disorders, drug and substance abuse including alcohol abuse and parenting were delivered by psychologists, social workers, doctors and peer educators including Dr. Indhira Harry, Caitlin Vieira, Abdel Fudadin, Nazim Hussain, Rishi Dubraj and Pt. Jagmohan Persaud. Special presentations focusing on youth were given by behavioural change coaches from Dharmic Naujawaan, the Sabha’s youth arms from Central and West Coast Demerara.
Persons were made aware of how they should respond or intervene in instances where others were contemplating suicide or had suicidal thoughts. They were also taught to recognise signs of depression in themselves.
The Sabha said there were also discussions on alcohol abuse, its deleterious effects and how it contributed to persons contemplating suicidal acts as well as to the erosion of family stability.
It said emerging from the intense discussions were a number of recommendations to address these issues. Attendees bemoaned the lack of recreational activities and facilities for youths in their communities, the lack of counselors and social workers in close proximity, the profusion of liquor shops in their communities, the absence of values and moral codes in society, the poor communication between parents and children, the high use of drugs and alcohol among youth, the financial difficulties they are enduring especially in the agricultural areas and the poor support structure available to them to seek help in these areas.
It was also felt that more control should be placed on accessing pesticides and other poisonous substances and more safety measures put in place to protect those who worked in agricultural areas and were exposed to toxic substances frequently.
These outreach sessions came on the heels of Dharmic Sabha’s work in this area last year. The Sabha trained over 80 peer educators from across the country in suicide intervention and prevention.
As part of the ongoing programme, the Sabha has placed these persons in communities to voluntarily provide these services. Their contact numbers were provided at the session and will be distributed through various media. They were trained through Chaplaincy International and the U.S. Humanitarian Programme. In addition, the Sabha said it continues to train its pandits to be counselors on suicide and other ills.
The Sabha’s youth arm last year began a series of countrywide debates on suicide and is continuing this in 2016. A debate was held in Berbice last Sunday. The Sabha’s training programmes for peer educators will continue in 2016 and interested persons are asked to contact the Sabha on 227-6181. A Facebook help page was also launched ‘Value Life- Live on’. This page offers counselling services to persons through an experienced panel of therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors and peer educators from Guyana and overseas. It is hoped that persons will utilise this as it also has a referral service to guide persons to one-on-one counselling.
The Sabha said it continues with its outreach programmes through the year and will be making its way to West Berbice on the 27th February and to the East and West Coast of Demerara and other areas in Berbice in the first quarter.