News Americas, New York, NY, June 28, 2014: Suicide seems to be fast becoming the ultimate answer for every kind of interpersonal problem in Guyana, usually catalyzed by alcoholism, domestic abuse and other forms of violence, dysfunctional and triangular relationships and teenage pregnancy.
In fact, Guyana has the second highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the Caribbean; the average Guyanese drinker consumes 13.7 liters of pure alcohol each year with 6.1% of the population considered heavy drinkers and of the more than 60 percent of women who were involved in a relationship or union, 27.7 percent reported physical abuse, 26.3 percent had experienced verbal abuse and 12.7 percent experienced sexual violence.
Additionally, for a nation with about three quarters of a million people, Guyana has the highest suicide rate in the world, with about 25 suicides per 100,000 people (2006 figures so it could be higher today). Two of every three persons who commit suicide in Guyana are young persons below the age of 35; and young adults 15 to 24 years are over represented among those who commit suicide. Worse yet is that empirical evidence reveals that some suicides do not make the limelight and therefore do not end up in the official stats, so the actual rate could possibly be higher. Furthermore research has revealed that for every person who commits suicide there are 30 attempted suicides, which would mean that out of 100,000 persons in Guyana 700 plus (again this is an old stat so this too could be higher) attempt suicide each year.
It is against this background that The Caribbean Voice (TCV), a New York-based newspaper, has decided to make suicide prevention the focus of its social activism in the next few years. To this end TCV has started a letter writing campaign that has brought suicide to the front burner and catalyzed editorials by two of the major Guyanese newspapers, a press release from the political opposition and rallies by students in Black Bush Polder, New Amsterdam and the Essequibo Coast, as well as letters to the media by others. TCV’s letter writing campaign is also aimed at encouraging provision of nationwide training for and establishing a network of first responders, catalyzing ongoing information dissemination and sensitizing and initiating outreach by various organizations and entities as well putting on the agenda the building of a national network to facilitate referrals and counseling.
Currently TCV is also giving consideration to a number of other initiatives to include:
- A national schools essay contest in two categories – primary and secondary schools – towards which TCV will be offering prizes to tune of US$4,500.00. This will be followed by other contests – art and posters, debates, poetry and so on;
- Erecting billboard throughout the nation, possibly in every district. This will be followed by placement of banners and posters at high trafficking areas nationwide;
- Initiating walks culminating in rallies in every region;
- Convening training programs, workshops, seminars and focus groups on identifying signs and signals indicating suicidal behavior, empathetic communication, building of self-acceptance and self worth and recognizing that suicide not the answer.
- Setting up a phone number and email accounts so calls and emails can be received from those seeking assistance and making the necessary referrals;
- Organizing a national stakeholders’ conference to be followed by focus groups, seminars, workshops and outreaches nationally.
- Ongoing media focus via notices, ads, articles and interviews.
In the context of Guyana, suicide seems to be just another option imbued to with a sort of fatal attraction. In fact, there may also be a predisposition to suicide in certain areas and homes. In this context, The Caribbean Voice strongly believes that dealing with suicide and related issues must be everybody’s business. Thus TCV is committed to reaching out to all and sundry, both in Guyana and the Diaspora, to undertake collaborative work, to ensure optimization of interventions and resource allocation and to avoid duplication. Towards this end TCV is seeking to establish a strategic alliance of Diaspora and Guyanese entities. Organizations interested in such an alliance are urged to contact Annan Boodram or Norkah Carter.
A California study, done some time ago concluded that the vast majority of those who attempted suicide were quite relieved that their attempts failed. This clearly indicates that, reached in time, those with suicidal tendencies could be dissuaded from taking that fatal step. In effect suicide is preventable.
Help make suicide prevention the choice. Email [email protected] or [email protected], call 718-542-4454, check out the facebook group, ‘The Suicide Epidemic’ at https://www.facebook.com/groups/suicideepidemic/ and inbox Annan Boodram or Norkah Carter with pledges and suggestions. Also view and share the videos on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/user/ab10460/feed?view_as=public.