“Awareness is a stepping stone to saving lives” – Advocate

Even as plans are being streamlined for a strategic workshop to prepare suicide prevention advocates to better help those struggling with core suicidal issues such as low self esteem, depression and substance abuse, other tactical programmes are ongoing aiming for the same outcome.
The Caribbean Voice has etched in its outreach agenda the hosting of a Teacher Training workshop targeting teachers of the Friendship, East Coast Demerara Primary School. The workshop is planned for Thursday [April 19, 2018] and comes as part of a suicide prevention initiative, which the Non Governmental Organisation [NGO] has being undertaking in collaboration with the Guyana Teachers Union [GTU].
Also collaborating with the Caribbean Voice for the Teacher Training programme is the Ministry of Social Protection’s Childcare and Protection Agency.
According to National Coordinating Director of the Caribbean Voice, Mr. Nazim Hussain, the suicide and violent prevention drive will also see the continuance of workshops in various sections of the country.
In this regard, he spoke of plans for a Mental Health anti-suicide workshop slated for the Albion Estate on May 19, 2018. This forum, according to Hussain, will target the people of the community with a particular focus on sugar workers, religious leaders and other people who can make a notable impact.
“What we are hoping to do is to once again do what is called the trainer of trainers’ workshop so that we can have gate keepers,” Hussain noted.
The gate keeper programme is one that targets those who are vulnerable in society – in this case those are susceptible to self harm or violent behaviour. Even as he addressed the issue of self harm, Hussain assured, “People do not want to self harm; it is a final plea for help. What they want is to have someone who can be compassionate and that person does not have to be a family member. It doesn’t have to be somebody such as their spouse, mother or parents; it can be anyone else who gives five minutes of their time to help save a life.”
As he commented on recent perpetration of violent crimes too, Hussain said, “Our view is if more people could understand how to safeguard mental health, how to develop self esteem and how to be able to appreciate and be part of emphatic communication, it could save lives.”
The Caribbean Voice, according to Hussain, is an entity that embraces the notion that once people understand the warning signs of suicide for instance they will be able to perceive when someone is vulnerable and therefore in need of help.
He noted that while the Caribbean Voice does not profess to have all of the answers, “we think that the awareness we can create can be a stepping stone to saving lives. It is vital that all Guyanese understand that although suicide is influence by thoughts, these thoughts are influence by things that happen in the community or even globally.”
Hussain explained that when a child is born, he or she is void of things such as hate, ideations of self harm and violence. Such traits, he related, are eventually learnt from parents and others within the child’s environment.
“So what transpires when a person is violent, is really something that is influenced,” Hussain emphasised. He disclosed that the Caribbean Voice has been continually advocating for the media to, as far as possible, desist from sensationalising acts of suicide.
“When one reads about these things they can cause the Werther’s effect, that is, the copy cat effect,” he added.
To advance its efforts, Hussain said that the Caribbean Voice has several platforms that it is focused on. He disclosed that among the NGOs focus is to have measures put in place to decriminalise attempted suicide.
“We have been very vocal about that and the Minister [of Public Security] shares our concern about decriminalising suicide…so we would like to see some action on this because we have been talking about this for the longest time,” Hussain informed.
Another area that the NGO has been directing much passionate advocacy is the formation of a Sex Offenders Registry.
It is the expectation of the Caribbean Voice that the Sexual Offenders Registry will be one that will not only help officials be able to put a tag on the offenders but also to provide training to them too.
The aim, Hussain said, is to help to reform the offenders with the hope that they can be reformed and become law abiding citizen.

About caribvoice

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