Reggae artiste supports suicide prevention campaign


Reggae/dancehall artiste G Mac has joined Guyanese entity The Caribbean Voice (TCV) on its suicide-prevention campaign.

The project aims to create awareness around the issue of suicide. According to the artiste, the growing suicide rate across the region has become a major cause for concern and he wants to help do something about it.

“There are a lot of people out there going through depression and having suicidal thoughts and need someone to talk to. I joined TCV so as to use my music to address the problem because I am very concerned,” he said. “I decided to create a song to speak to these people, and I hope to inspire and uplift the minds in a positive direction. I want people to find other means to alleviate their depression instead of giving up on life itself.”

The artiste, who lost his mother to cancer at age 13, revealed that he has had his fair share of depressing times.

“I had family who supported me, and having that system in place can go a far way in keeping someone from falling into the dark trenches of life,” he said. “People become depressed for various reasons – lack of wealth, success, wanting to be accepted by other people, abuse by parents, spouse and others, and this can lead to suicidal thoughts. But whatever the reason, I want to be there for these people in these dark times. I want to use my music to say give life a chance man.”

DEALING WITH NEGATIVE COMMENTS
Well aware that persons tend to react harshly to people who attempt suicide, the artiste said the campaign also aims at sensitising those negative people.

“People who commit suicide actually have a mental block. That means they reach a state of mind where they don’t see no escape for a better way out of whichever situation they find themselves in, and so their escape route is to commit suicide,” he said. “What they need is good, positive people, who reason and have encouraging words to uplift and motivate them when they’re going through depression and tough times, because this is what has saved many lives. The more we make a mockery of suicide, it shows our ignorance, and the rates spike even further.”

G Mac’s song for the campaign is Love Your Life. He is slated to release visuals for the song and is scheduled to perform it at several shows in the Caribbean in support of the campaign.

TCV is engaged in suicide and abuse prevention in the US, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago, with plans to officially launch in Canada and Jamaica within the next two years.

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J’can musical star Gmac Citylock joins local suicide prevention campaign


Jamaican reggae and dancehall star Garfield Mclean — known professionally as Gmac Citylock — has joined The Caribbean Voice’s (TCV) suicide prevention campaign as a spokesperson.

Gmac joins a number of other media and entertainment stars on TCV’s team of spokespersons, including chutney singers Satish Udairam (Guyana/Florida), Natty Ramotar (T&T/Florida), and MC Drew P (Guyana/Canada); reggae singer and university lecturer Jah (George) Dover (Guyana/California); versatile singer Roger Hinds (Guyana); and media personalities Lakshmee Singh, Imran Ahmad, and Shanaz Hussain (US), the local organisation said in a recent press release.

From cultural phenom Sizzla to crooners Natty King and Bushman, Gmac has been embraced by some of the most influential music practitioners. Some of his most notable collaborations are with the reggae legend Ken Boothe, in a remix of his hit song “Everything I Own”, and three collaborations with Sizzla Kalonji, including the remix of his hit song “Holding Firm” which garnered rave reviews and accolades.

Other collaborations include one with Hurricane Chris, the platinum selling rapper in the USA, and another with Junior Reid. Gmac’s brand of music spans the gamut from cultural, reality message music to party floor themes and affairs-of-the-heart lovers’ odes.

“I am about music that can inspire and elevate but I am also about fun music that will help people release the stresses of life,” the musician reportedly said. Further, his suicide prevention song titled ‘Love Your Life’ has added another dimension to his music as he seeks to play a critical role in saving lives.

For this particular song, Gmac Citylock worked with Beenie Man and Fido Guido from Italy. The producer of the song is Pablo Morelove Music also from Italy. The song is currently receiving regional and international airplay in Australia, Europe, North America, and the Caribbean as efforts are being ramped up to promote suicide prevention.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Voice is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt NGO that is registered in the US and Guyana. It plans to also register in Canada and Trinidad and Tobago next year. A fully volunteer-run entity, TCV is engaged in suicide and abuse prevention in the US, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago, with plans to launch in Canada and Jamaica within the next two years, followed by the rest of the Caribbean down the road. (Modified from Caribbean Voice press release)

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Credit for decrease in suicides must go to NGOs


SOME media houses in Guyana continue to propagate the WHO suicide ‘stat’ of 2012, which placed Guyana at Number One in the world with a rate of 44.2, in spite of the fact that that figure is incorrect. TCV’s investigation had revealed the actual rate was 32.15. So we challenge the media to investigate and either confirm or disprove our findings. Sources would include Dr. Leslie Ramsammy and WHO.

Secondly, while we do agree that the suicide rate has decreased, we disagree with any attempts by the government to claim total credit. Significant credit must go to entities that receive no funding or support from the government (The Caribbean Voice; Guyana Foundation; the Counseling Centre at Corriverton; Golden Om Dharmic Youth and others)) but that do the largest amount of counseling, including grief counseling in Guyana as well as more outreach, sensitization, training and ‘info’ dissemination than government and its associates.

Thirdly, recently British High Commissioner Greg Quinn called for the decriminalization of attempted suicide. It is well known that a Bill to this effect was placed in parliament some years ago. Supported in debate by both government and opposition, it was voted against by the government because they did not want the opposition to be given credit. A suggestion by TCV for a bipartisan committee to prepare and take another Bill to parliament went nowhere.

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Mindframe guidelines for media reporting on suicide


THE Caribbean Voice is thrilled that yet another training session on suicide reporting has been undertaken with the Guyana media, especially in view of the fact that the local media continue to sensationalise suicide, post pics of suicide victims, and use suicide-inappropriate language such as ‘commit.’
However, we also know that lots of advocacy has been done in this respect by various entities, including The Caribbean Voice, as well as by persons working behind the scenes, and we believe that the Guyana Press Association must now take the lead in ensuring that journalists conform to appropriate suicide reportage.
We are also aware that the mindframe guidelines, developed in Australia, considered possibly the best approach globally, has been offered to relevant government and professional media entities as an approach that can be implemented. Thus we strongly urge that the Guyana Press Association, editors of all media entities and government ministries and agencies responsible for media, along with the Ministries of Social Protection and Public Health, work together to ensure that the mindframe guidelines become normal practice in the short term.
These guidelines are online, can be accessed by anyone and are easy to understand, present on and follow.

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Independent Investigations Needed


THE media recently reported that the Guyana Defence Force has launched an internal investigation into the “initiation beating of a number of new officers of the force who were recently commissioned. The initiation usually forms part of the ‘welcome into the Force’, but this year, senior officers expressed concerns that those involved in the incident went too far. A number of the new officers had to be taken to the hospital to seek medical attention for various injuries, while a young doctor, who is a reserve officer, was likely to have undergone surgery due to injuries he sustained during training”.
In response to this issue, Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan stated that if the allegations turned out to be true, they must be condemned.
Firstly, if this kind of physical abuse, which is what it is, has been part of initiation, then how come the Minister is not aware of it? Secondly, if the allegations are true, is the Minister saying that condemnation would be a sufficient response? Physical abuse as part of any army training is a ‘tradition’ of the past. Army regulations should be urgently updated to make it clear that any physical abuse of recruits or other army personnel is unacceptable and perpetrators would be penalized. In fact, in the US Army, trainers have to seek the permission of recruits to even touch them. I know because a member of The Caribbean Voice undertook that training.
Also, it is well known that globally, armies have the highest rates of suicide, and that army personnel often suffer a range of mental health issues resulting in many veterans never recovering and some often ending up in the streets. Thus this kind of physical abuse and the resultant trauma at the very beginning of their career can catalyze mental health issues even earlier than usual.
Incidentally, some years ago the GDF had reached out to TCV to help address suicide, but for whatever reason, subsequent follow up to formalize plans met with silence from army personnel who had contacted us. We sincerely hope that if such help was not sought elsewhere, then it should be given urgent priority and that overall mental health should be part of the regular annual checkup of all army personnel.
On a final note, military and paramilitary entities globally have erected a ‘‘wall of silence’ to prevent their transgressions from being known by the public. It is not inconceivable that the same situation exists in Guyana and whistle-blowers know that they are putting their lives at risk. Thus, any internal investigation will always be suspect and viewed with skepticism by the public. The Public Security Minister should, therefore, get the government to set up independent investigation committees to handle issues like this as this would ensure that trust in the army (and police with respect to other situations such as the ongoing revelations in Berbice and the claims of police complicity in investigating sexual abuse) would not be eroded as well as to be able to weed out unsavory practices and personnel.

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Boodram Hits The Mark with New Book


Book: Slices of Life
Author: Annan Boodram
Critic: Glenville Ashby, PhD
Annan Boodram’s Slices of Life is masterful collection of philosophical narratives, avowedly independent, and well outside the confines of groupthink.
‘Forbidden,’ a literary tour de force is arguably Boodram’s most ambitious effort. He seamlessly moves from prose to verse and blends diverse styles, tone and colour into a hypnotic tapestry. Throughout, he holds our attention. Set among army recruits his is a theme that brims with aesthetics, passion, patriotism, and tradition. It’s a compelling narrative that speaks to today’s youth while challenging religio-political lore crafted over millennia.
Ravi, his protagonist, bangs against the walls of custom. He pushes only to have the guardians of the status quo push back harder. He stands his ground. They reciprocate. For a single decision, controversial as it might be, as deliberate and judicious as he believed, he is vilified and ostracized by his community.
For purely existential value, ‘Forbidden’ indelibly captures the imagination like no other offering.
“I am a Hindu. Drill Sergeant. I am me…I cannot be anything else. Nor am I trying to be.”
“By the way, why is it you guys call your women bitches and each other nigg—s, but object when others do so?”
There is a rebellious exoticism about Ravi. He is Guyanese. He brings colour into a predictable, parochial setting. He is profoundly thoughtful and intrepid in the face of barking drill sergeants. His beliefs he encapsulates in Legacy, a commentary he wrote on life and destiny.
He delivers: “Black, White, Red. Hello, Brown. Same blood, same flesh, same bones, same sinew
West Indian, American, Chinese, African, Asian. Same tears, same laughter, same pains, same pleasure
Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jew. All hope and pray and to Him look up
First World. Second World, Third World, Every World. Each struggles and strives, dreams to capture.”
Boodram’s message is weighty and enduringly relevant. His principal actors are perspicacious, uncompromising, unbowed by life’s harshest terrain.
In ‘Nana,’ we are introduced to an impressive man treated reverentially by his village. He is adept at his every pursuit, naturally adaptive, a rare find, many believe. Sagacious, compassionate, engaging and selfless, he has earned his epaulets. Never did he forge transactional relationships. He engages everyone, especially Rishi. He is selfless, and compassionate, enough to shape Rishi’s course in life.
We are moved to his new path.
“First Rishi feasted on the fruits of Nana’s harvest – experiences and reflections garnered over a lifetime. Then for the next three months, Rishi became engaged in intense reading and research. He resigned from his job, took leave of his parents and was off. In India, the land of his forefathers, he embarked on a pilgrimage of reconnection.
“Finally, understanding came to him like Indra’s (Divine manifestation as God of Rain, Lighting and Thunder) lightning bolt. He knew now that the journey was cyclic and each life needed to be maximized to its fullest karmic potential.
“In the conquest over the gross self and the acquisition of a deeper spiritual self, Rishi could fully grasp the metaphysical implications of ‘raising the Kundalini’ and ‘opening the third eye.’
‘From Deep Within’ captures love’s enduring quality. It is a searing affair between Sunil and Seema upon whom Providence smiled and the Patra removed all doubt of their affection. Their love, supposedly sealed by destiny, is challenged by exigency of circumstance. It is an incredulous turn of events.
Sunil reads a harrowing missive.
“I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me for the pain this news will bring you…The years may dull my pain but they will never kill my love. I am getting the married for all the wrong reasons, yet there is very little I can do about it except to put a final end to things…And one day you will find someone much worthier than me to walk with you, hand in hand, and to bear your children as wonderful as
you…”
Sunil is rattled. “Selling her soul for a green card.”
He is determined, though, to fulfill the will of the gods. He is crestfallen, but it is ephemeral. Love is enduring, love is binding.
Seema eventually balks at the most deterministic moment.
“Do you promise the dulha (groom) that you will abide by his requests?” asks the pandit.
‘No,’ stated Seema in a firm voice as she sensed someone standing up in the gathering. Quickly she looked up. There he was. Her feet sped of their own volition. She was in his arms…”
Amid these heated passions, Boodram showcases the depth, splendour and complexity of East Indian culture.
In ‘No More Tears,’ he stokes discourse on religious strictures and their impact on women in particular. It challenges tradition and authority and couldn’t be more timely.
Mention is made of sati (women enter funeral pyres with their deceased husband as a show of dedication), and Jauhar – “the practice of mass burning of all wives and daughters in an entire town/district to prevent them from falling into the heads of the enemy.”
We are reminded that “in the Ramayan, Sita was held up as Rama’s equal in every way – decisions were made in consultation, she even dared to advance him and challenge him and she shared experiences and suffering with him, [but] in the end he yielded to rumored about her infidelity.”
In “The Grave,” “Making of a President” and “The Pandit Run,” Boodram continues to prove his salt as a writer of enviable prowess. Passionately authentic, Slices of Life is invaluable and instructive,
a boon for anyone keen on East Indian lore.

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Suicide and the Young


As in the Caribbean, suicide in Caribbean America is still seen as a family ‘shame’ that needs to be hidden. Some years ago a young man died in the streets. A sibling disclosed at the wake that the brother would occasionally spend time by her home as he was living in the streets. On that night the young man called his sister around two or three in the morning requesting to drop by her. She told him that it was very late and she needed to sleep, so he could drop by in the morning, as he knew where the spare key was kept. Next morning they learnt of the suicide of the young man but told the public that he dies by a drug overdose. That young man, who came from an affluent family and whose father was well known in the community, was in the streets because of differences with a parent.
Also, some years ago, a young lady, again from an affluent family, died by suicide. Both her parents were highly qualified professionals whose college student daughter had apparently failed to maintain her straight A’s during the semester prior to her death. This apparently angered her parents who let their daughter know how they felt. This exchange was the trigger for the suicide.
In the US suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED. Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 3,041 attempts by young people grades 9-12. If these percentages are applied to grades 7 & 8, the numbers would be higher. Four out of five teens who attempt suicide give clear warning signs. Teens who have attempted suicide in the past are likely to attempt suicide again, generally, about 1/3 of all teen suicide victims had tried to commit suicide before.
The Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System (a biannual survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) 2017 found that 17.2 % of teens nationwide seriously considered attempting suicide and that 13.6% of students nationwide had made a suicide plan during the 12 months before the survey.
The fact is that youngsters spend more time at home than anywhere else so families are in the best position to identify warning signs and seek help for at risk members. These signs may include teens showing signs of depression, inability to sleep or sleeping too much, irritability, refusal to talk, difficulty coping with stress, grief or other life challenges as well as drinking or drug use. Other risk factors or symptoms of depression or suicide may include suicidal tendencies like self-mutilation where a teen may be harming themselves through cutting, burning, and so on. About 90 percent of people who commit suicide have previously shown signs of depression.
In effect, parents must always be alert to what’s happening in the lives of their teenagers; they should always find out how their teenagers are doing and if anything’s bothering them. And in addressing any problems parents must not use language that would alienate their teenagers, make them feel unloved and unwanted, make them act in anger and/or haste or make them feel, alone and lonely. Regardless of what the issues are parents must let their teenagers know that they are loved and that they can always depend on parental help and support.
As well parents should not impose their views about how things should be on their teenagers since the issues parents faced when they were growing up and the environment of those time are not quite the same as what exists today. Among other things, parents have to work towards the following:
➢ Cutting down, if not eliminating nagging and lecturing which generally cause children to stop listening to what is being said and to become resentful as well. Keep conversations brief, don’t repeat things too often and if necessary, develop a set of consequences with children so they take ownership for their behavior and actions and embrace the consequences;
➢ Desist from interrupting when children are expressing themselves so they feel what they have to say is given value;
➢ Do not be directly critical of children. If necessary enter into a discussion about behavior and/or actions and work with children to understand where they may have been wrong and what would be better options;
➢ Absolutely do not keep dwelling on the past, as children need to know that they can start over with a clean slate. If a pattern develops then maybe have a supportive and caring family intervention;
➢ Desist from trying to control children through guilt because this is a sure way to negatively affect relationships and children’s self esteem as well;
➢ Do not use sarcasm as this can have negative effects on children in many ways;
➢ Work with children to help them solve their problems, instead of imposing solutions as this can lead to resentment. Offer guidance and scope for them to find solutions as children need to learn by themselves and know that they are capable and trusted;
➢ Never put down children, even as a joke. This can lead to children feeling rejected, unloved and inadequate.
➢ Never use threats as these can lead to children feeling powerless and resentful.
With respect to relationships, especially if pregnancy is involved parents must reach out for assistance to ensure that their teenagers are safe. The bottom line is that we all make mistakes as part of the growing up process. In fact even as adults we still continue to make mistakes. So when our teens make mistakes we must understand that its not the end of the world or even the end of life. Life goes on and as parents, we must first help our teenagers deal with the consequences of mistakes made and then help them learn from those mistakes and move on in life. And, when necessary, we must reach for help if we feel that we are not fully capable of providing the help needed by our teenagers. For more information call 1-800-SUICIDE or contact The Caribbean Voice – see contact info below.
PS: Catch our Internet radio and FB live program The Mind Body Connection every Monday on Island Zone Radio from 8 to 10 PM with hosts Shanaz Hussain and Hiram Rampersaud. Log on to The Caribbean Voice Media page on FB for videos of all programs. Also The Caribbean Voice can help you access help for any and all mental health issues. Please email us at caribvoice@aol.com, call 646-461-0574 (Annan), 917-767-2248 (Hiram), 631805-6605 (Shanaz), 646-202-3971 (Neela) or 516-286-8952 (Dr. Rodney). In Guyana call Bibi at 621-6111 and in T&T call Keisha at 686-3623 or Czerina at 7268-775. Also check out our website at http://www.caribvoice.org for more information.

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