More effort being plugged into ‘suicide first aid’


Through recent strategic workshops spearheaded by The Caribbean Voice [TCV], a number of key persons are now able to employ a more informed approach when dealing with persons with suicide ideation.
The workshops were designed, among other things, to raise awareness on suicide first aid. Suicide first aid refers to the tactics employed to help dissuade an individual from opting to commit suicide. But according to TCV National Coordinating Director, Mr. Nazim S. Hussain, “one of my concerns is that many people do not understand suicide first aid.”
Hussain noted that the response of many untrained persons to an individual contemplating suicide is that they shouldn’t worry about the problems that they have since things are likely to get better.
“If it is a money problem, they might say, ‘man don’t fight up, you’re going to get money soon’. But these are things that they have already thought of; they want solutions. They don’t want to hear what will work soon. A person in this state needs to see evidence of what you are presenting to them that things will work out,” Hussain explained.
He underscored that a primary element of suicide first aid is emphatic communication. “Don’t tell people that things are going to work out if you don’t have evidence of that. What we need to do is embrace and inculcate emphatic communication,” insisted Hussain.
Employing emphatic communication, he asserted, suggests that an individual lending support avoids making empty suggestions and is willing to listen to the troubled person’s problems without being judgmental, and if possible find a solution to their problem.
But if that person lending support is unable to derive a plausible solution, Hussain shared that he or she should be able retain the attention of that person until the service of a professional is sought.
Doing something as simple as “lending a listening ear” is of paramount importance to a person with suicide ideations, since, according to Hussain, “that person does not really want to die…”
“The mere fact that that person sought you out means that they need help… You don’t need to establish guilt, you want to build trust, you want to build confidence, you want to have them talking as long as possible to you until you can contact someone to help them further.
“That is not betraying their trust but finding a way to help them when you can’t.”
He continued, “All Guyanese should be able to have the simplest knowledge of how to apply suicide first aid…”
Getting additional help for a person contemplating suicide could be as simple as calling one of the Suicide Prevention Helpline numbers. In addition to a toll free number offered by Digicel, [600-4444], persons can also call the other helpline numbers: 223-0001, 223-0009 and 623-4444. Both mobile numbers [600-4444 [Digicel] and 623-4444 [GTT]] are also Whatsapp enabled for assistance, Hussain said.
The participants of the recent workshops were exposed to forgoing information and are now in a better position to help with the ongoing fight to help prevent the incidence of suicide in the society. The workshops, which took on the form of Addiction/Mental Health/Anti-Suicide sessions, were held earlier this month. Among the key facilitators was Canada based Guyanese, Mr. Shirvington Hannays, who is a Certified Addiction Counsellor and Behavioural Change Coach. The first in the series of workshops was held in the boardroom of the Childcare and Protection Agency and saw the attendance of some 28 individuals including: Ministry of Social Protection officials, representatives from the Guyana Prison Service, among others.
Another workshop on the Essequibo Coast was held in the boardroom of the Suddie Hospital. It saw the attendance of some 40 individuals including seven doctors and other public health workers others.
There was yet another workshop in Berbice targeting young cricketers at the Fort Wellington Secondary School.

About caribvoice

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