Following another suicide tragedy, which occurred yesterday at East Bank Berbice, President David Granger today convened an emergency meeting with several of his ministers with a view to charting a course to address this scourge.
The outcome of the meeting is a plan of action, which will see Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Religious organisations and other Civil Society organisations being engaged to work together with Government on a centralised approach to suicide prevention.
The President has indicated that he intends to have a hands-on approach to addressing this issue and will be looking to implement a national programme that has measurable outcomes.
A statement from the Ministry of the Presidency said Mr. Granger met with Minister of Public Health Dr. George Norton, Minister of Social Protection Ms. Volda Lawrence, Minister of Social Cohesion Ms. Amna Ally, Minister within the Ministry of Health Dr. Karen Cummings, Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs Ms. Valerie Garrido-Lowe, and Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Ms. Dawn Hastings.
During the meeting, the President was also updated on the implementation of Guyana’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy, launched by the Ministry of Public Health, last September, with a view to ramping up Government’s response to the on-going problem. In addition, the President was provided with updates on work being done within the other subject Ministries.
Earlier in the day, the President told two local journalists, during the weekly recording of the television programme, ‘The Public Interest’, that much more needs to be done and he intends to bring together international organisations and civil society organisations to ensure that all of the factors related to suicide are identified and addressed.
The Guyanese Head of State said, “I am concerned as President that Guyana has a higher rate of suicide than other countries. It is not as though there is an average around the world and we are just average. We are above average and that is disturbing.”
President Granger also issued a call to parents, guardians, teachers and church leaders to be more sensitive and understanding of the emotional matters that affect young people.
He said that, “the church needs to be more careful, the home needs to be more careful, peers need to be more careful. It is a delicate period but the State cannot bear the full burden of counselling, the home is where these matters should be resolved.”
The President affirmed that his Administration intends to do all that is possible especially since many of the victims of this scourge are young people in whose hands the country’s future lies. He explained too, that the circumstances and conditions under which people live needs to be examined to understand the underlying factors responsible for the high suicide rate.
“I intend to find out why we have so many suicides and once we identify those factors, try to use Governmental action and try to get the efforts of civil society and households to put this scourge to an end. We are above normal and I want to find out if its social, if its cultural, or if its economic and bring an end to it… we know what the disease is, let’s find out what the cures are,” the Head of State was quoted as saying.