2016 Wish List


If The Caribbean Voice were to present a pragmatic wish list for the year 2016 elimination of the law criminalizing attempted suicide would probably top the list. Prior to May elections, we had discussed this issue with two current cabinet members and both had expressed an interest in exploring he possibility of instituting a process to get rid of the law. We now appeal to both those gentlemen as well as the government in general and members of the opposition as well to please move with alacrity to take steps to discard this archaic law that was premised on premises that have long been debunked.
Other very doable measures, all of which have been ventilated many times in the public domain include:
1. Bringing back the Gatekeeper’s Program or a similar replacement in order to train first responders within every community not only with respect to suicide prevention but also to tackle related issues such as domestic violence and child abuse.
2. Instituting a program to address pesticide suicide. Earlier this month a forum on suicide in the Cayman Islands, attended by a number of government representatives, had a one-day focus on pesticide suicide. Additionally The Caribbean Voice has presented to both government agencies and in the media the highly successful Shri Lankan Model of Hazard Reduction as well as other models that were also successful.
3. Placing counselors in high schools. When President Granger suggested that the government could not afford this, he might not have considered strategies that have been publicly presented by TCV and others to identify teachers with social work training and use their knowledge and skills as well as to employ social work graduated from UG. Additionally the government may want to consider the one-year diploma in counseling that was in place in the seventies and eighties, with classes held on Saturdays.
4. A phased integrating mental healthcare into the general healthcare system as the World Health Organization has suggested for developing nations like Guyana.
5. Fostering awareness and in formation dissemination by reaching out to the media to offer public service announcements as part of heir social responsibility. Also the business sector can be requested to offer space on their billboards and electronic advertisements for the same purposes. Simultaneously, sports and performing stars as well as other influentials can be persuaded to become spokespersons for suicide and related causes.
6. Harnessing NGOs on the social landscape to set up a coordinating committee to foster collaboration, establish a national network, and broaden collaboration on suicide prevention and related issues. This would facilitate mapping and eliminate duplication, while fostering cost effectiveness maximal use of resources.
7. Aggressively publicizing and promoting the suicide hotline also by harnessing he media and private sector billboards and electronic advertising, as well as social media, NGOs, religious and educational institutions and so on.
We are very much aware that much more than this needs to be done but the measures referenced here are practical, affordable, and easily implementable and sustainable. The most fundamental requirement is political will, underpinned by an attitude of caring concern.

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About caribvoice

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