There have been 17 suicide attempts from the month of June to date.
This is according to Police Commissioner Leslie James who in delivering the feature address at the Force’s annual Christmas Awards ceremony on Wednesday at Eve Leary, noted that thus far, the suicide helpline recorded 214 interactions with persons who were prone to committing the act.
He revealed that from June 2018 to date, there were a total of 59 interventions. This included 17 suicide attempts, 16 persons who thought of committing suicide, 14 expressing frustration, and 12 persons who were depressed.
The Inter-Agency Suicide Prevention Helpline was launched back in August 2015 to aid in the fight against the societal scourge after it was recognised that suicide rates in Guyana are as significant to that of serious crimes, hence the same urgency and attention was needed to help persons who may feel the need to harm themselves.
During a meeting in October led by the Top Cop, the European Union (EU) funded Inter-Agency Suicide Helpline came in for high praises for its professionalism and diligent work, especially when responding to clients. The meeting followed a successful 20-month collaboration between the Guyana Police Force’s (GPF) Inter-agency Suicide Helpline and Youth Challenge Guyana.
It was outlined that the Force manages and maintains the 24-hour suicide prevention hotline and Youth Challenge Guyana, through the EU-funded initiative and provides face-to-face counselling and follow-up for the persons referred by the hotline.
According to reports, suicide is said to be the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds globally, and in 2017, Guyana had a suicide rate of 29.9 deaths per 100,000 persons.
The Pan American Health Organisation’s (PAHO) 2017 Adolescent and Youth Health Report stated that suicide is a leading cause of death amongst persons within the age range of 15 to 24 years, which accounts for more than half of the deaths in persons between 20 and 24.
Only in August, a 22-year-old male nursing student, Heathecliffe Allistare Bobbsemple, of Amelia’s Ward, Linden, ended his life by consuming a quantity of carbon tablets. He reportedly suffered from mental illness and was treated at the Georgetown Public Hospital.
Days prior to the incident, he was reportedly seen acting in an abnormal manner. His mother, Tracy Bobbsemple had told this publication that the now dead man was wrongfully implicated in a robbery in July and was placed in the lockups but the matter was later dropped after no evidence was found against him. However shortly after, the young man was rearrested and charged for robbery.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on its website said that between 2010 and 2012, Guyana had recorded 667 reported suicide attempts. It recognised, however, that the Guyana Government has since launched the National Mental Health Action Plan for 2015–2020 and a national suicide prevention plan.
However, these initiatives are said to be bearing fruit since it has been reported that the country’s suicide rate had reduced from 44.2 per cent per 100,000 people in 2012 to 24.6 per cent per 100,000 persons in recent years.