By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Minister of Public Health, Dr George Norton has made it clear that there is no “suicide pact” at the Bartica Secondary School, dismissing reports carried in a local newspaper that seven students attempted to end their lives.
During a telephone interview with iNews on Thursday, November 12, 2015, the Public Health Minister admitted that a female student broke a plate and swallowed the splinters in an effort to kill herself recently.
She was rushed to the hospital where she was treated and admitted. According to Dr Norton, one of the “diligent doctors” at the hospital decided to do more research on attempted suicide cases and found that several other students had made attempts to kill themselves in the past.
However, he made it clear that these students are not based at one school but are from different schools. The doctor then informed the Regional Health Officer of his findings, after which the Ministry of Health was contacted.
At the moment, Dr Norton and a high level team, inclusive of Psychiatrists, are at the Bartica Secondary School, conducting a scientific assessment with the students.
According to Dr Norton, the assessment is being done in the form of a questionnaire, where a number of students have admitted to entertaining thoughts of suicide and attempting to kill themselves.
The Public Health Minister told iNews that the Psychiatrists are having a “one on one” discussion with students who have attempted suicide, in an effort to help them through this difficult time.
Dr Norton rejected the article carried in the local newspaper, pointing out that it is wholly inaccurate. He noted that the issue is a highly sensitive one and that the newspaper should have exercised better judgment before rushing to publish what is not true.
Meanwhile, the Minister and his team are slated to visit other schools in Region 7, where a similar scientific assessment will be done with the students. Dr Norton explained that there are also cases in other regions, where students attempted to kill themselves.
As such, he expressed hope that his team will also be able to visit Regions 1 and 9 in the future. Additionally, the Health Minister pointed to teenage pregnancy, which he noted is another issue that his Ministry is grappling to deal with.
He revealed that there were 42 teenage pregnancies reported in Region 7 for the year 2014 and thus far for 2015, 35 cases have been recorded.