Guyana records 272 suicide cases in 30 months; Indo-Guyanese, Males top list

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By Jomo Paul

Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan during the launch of the Suicide Prevention Hotline. [iNews' Photo]
Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan during the launch of the Suicide Prevention Hotline. [iNews’ Photo]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – With a 2014 World Health Organisation (WHO) report naming Guyana as the country with the highest suicide rate per capita, the trend seems to be continuing with recent suicide statistics showing 272 reports over a thirty month period.

Vice President Khemraj Ramjattan, who has responsibility for Public Security on Thursday August 06, detailed police statistics as it relates to reported cases of suicide in Guyana.

Ramjattan released the statistics at the launch of the Inter-Agency Suicide Hotline which was spearheaded by the Guyana Police Force.

He pointed out that in 2013, there were some 129 reports of suicide with the Berbice area amassing the highest amount of reports at 42, most of whom were East Indians. It was indicated that 90 of the 129 reports were relative to male victims.

Ramjattan indicated that the same trend continued in 2014, although there was a stark decline in the amount of suicide reports. There were 97 suicides and again most of the reports involved male victims with 68 of the reports being persons of East Indian descent.

For the first six months of 2015, the Public Security Minister stated that the Guyana Police Force recorded some 46 reports of suicide, 29 of which emanated from the Berbice area.

It was further noted that there were three major underlying factors that led to suicide, the first of which was domestic violence and this was followed by alcohol abuse and terminal illnesses, respectively.

A section of the gathering at the launch. [iNews' Photo]
A section of the gathering at the launch. [iNews’ Photo]
Suicide by hanging and consuming poison was also pointed out to be the two major mediums utilised. Ramjattan pointed out that there is need for more stringent monitoring of the pesticides sector and indicated too that access restriction is something that will be explored by the current government.

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police Seelall Persaud told those gathered at the launch that the new helpline will be subject to weekly reviews to ensure that it is working in a manner that is satisfactory.

“We decided we won’t open these lines until we are comfortable that they can deliver what they are intended to deliver…we will be collecting data on suicide to prove or disprove what happened…You can call, you can text – by any of these means communicate to us and we will respond appropriately,” said the Police Commissioner.

The Suicide Prevention Helpline numbers are 223-0818, 600-7896 and 623-4444. The service is also available via social media and Instant Messaging platforms such as Blackberry Messenger and Whatsapp.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Suicide should Not be treated as a criminal/ police matter. Social Workers or trained mental health counselors (who should be in the forefront of prevention, treatment) should manage the Hotline and NOT the Police. The photograph of the launch appears to be dominated by police superintendents. Suicide victims are generally not violent toward others nor society in general. The role of the police should be an auxiliary one. They should accompany a mental health team as a back up,

  2. Despite 23 years of “progress” under the PPP many male Indo-Guyanese Berbicians chose to take their own lives rather than run to the US (like so many did during the so called “terrible” PNC years) or live under the PPP. I wonder what is the reason for that. The authorities should look into making Guyana a suicide tourist destination. Horror houses, spooky tv series and movies can be filmed in Berbice, the suicide capital of the world. Talk about tourism and generating revenue from tourism.

  3. An aggressive alcoholism control program should also be implemented, to work in tandem with the suicide hotline. Alcoholism is a major, major problem in many rural communities where there is high unemployment, few avenues for entertainment (hence men turn to alcohol to pass the time), and no counseling or other intervention services available.

    Creating and equipping local sports teams (cricket) can be one avenue to pursue, as well as skills training for electricians, carpenters, masons etc.

  4. This is SHOCKING! We need to solve this problem as soon as possible! We can’t keep loosing so many of our young people – even as we also keep loosing so many in Traffic Crashes and also due to murder.

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