Suicide is Preventable


Is suicide preventable? Well evidence abounds that individuals, organizations and nations have succeeded in saving lives and reducing suicides. Perhaps more importantly is that a tremendous body of research indicates that generally those with suicidal mindsets do not want to die; they just want the pain and agony to go away. And this is why The Caribbean Voice is somewhat puzzled that the Kaieteur News ended a recent editorial by asking whether suicide is preventable, rather than actually presenting the evidence that affirmatively answers that question.
For one, there are specific frameworks implemented by various nations that have been successful in reducing suicides significantly. The Shri Lankan Model of Hazard Reduction, which The Caribbean Voice has been propagating, reduced pesticide suicide in that nation by about 50% in a decade or so. Other models with significant successes were developed in Brazil, New Zealand, Japan and Western Samoa, among other places.
Also, individuals such as Sergeant Kevin R. Briggs, a former California Highway Patrol Officer, persuaded upwards of two hundred people from taking the fatal plunge at the Golden Gate Bridge that crosses the San Francisco Bay in the USA. And Australian, Don Ritchie, has dissuaded about 160 individuals from taking the suicidal jump at the cliff known as ‘The Gap’. Many similar experiences are documented, especially relating to counselors and suicide prevention activists and NGOs, whose proactive interventions have saved teeming lives around the world.
In fact, since the launch of our suicide prevention campaign last June, The Caribbean Voice has made upwards of 100 interventions, in more than a dozen nations, with success in all but one case. Most of the cases are referred by concerned friends of the individuals who need help. Currently we were dealing with two such cases in Guyana. Imagine the mushrooming effect of individuals trained to identify possible suicidal behavior in every community!
Within that context we take this opportunity to appeal to the People’s Progressive Party to donate the salary increases of its MPs to suicide prevention, especially for training of community first responders. Perhaps the PPP can have its groups in various communities organize the training. A similar appeal is made to the PNC and the AFC as well. By the same token we appeal to all entities and organizations to include suicide prevention training in events and activities organized with other goals in mind: empowerment, professional development et al. Whenever necessary, The Caribbean Voice is willing to provide training materials and help source trainers.
Meanwhile, The Caribbean Voice emphasizes the necessity for everyone to deliberately mind other people’s business by taking five minutes of your time to stop and chat with anyone whose behavior exhibits any kind of change, no matter how small or insignificant, or even if there are no visible behavior change. An empathetic ear can very well encourage someone to unburden. We also encourage everyone to please seek help if you suspect that anyone may be suicidal or even depressed. Call the Guyana Interagency Suicide Prevention helplines– 223-0818; 600-7896; 623-444 or contact the Psychiatric Unit – Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation or The National Psychiatric Hospital in Berbice,; reach out to any counselor or social worker; touch base with any NGO involved in suicide prevention such as The Caribbean Voice (caribvoice@aol.com, bibiahamad1@hotmail.com, 621-6111 or 223-2637 or 718-542-4454) or even reach out to the local church, mandir masjid, pastor, pandit or moulvi/imam. But please remember, every life is precious so doing nothing is not an option!
Also, we again urge all media in Guyana (print, radio, TV and online) to regularly run the suicide hotline numbers and public service suicide prevention messages (The Caribbean Voice can provide these in both print and video). We also encourage media to even run the contact info for the organizations mentioned above, as not everyone may want to call suicide hotlines, administered by the police force.
Additionally we urge GT&T and Digicel to regularly send out suicide prevention messages via mobile phones to all their customers, just as they send out customer specific and promotional messages on a daily basis. Also, we implore the business and professional community to start including suicide prevention messages in their advertisements in the media and outdoors. Remember, suicide prevention is everybody’s business!
As well, The Caribbean Voice is offering to plan and implement a three-day training program on Classroom Management Without Corporal Punishment free of charge in July 2016. We have already reached out to the Guyana Teachers Union with this offer and are now publicly presenting it to the Ministry of Education. With respect to the education sector also, the Berbice UG campus has graduated 26 individuals with degrees in social work. The Georgetown Campus must have graduated more than that, given that last year about 75 graduates had social work degrees. Surely social work graduates would have done enough courses in mental health/psychology to function as school counselors?

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About caribvoice

Free lance journalist, educator and community activist. Guyana born New York based.
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