Treat suicide as the mental illness it is – TCV Director


“Having suicidal thoughts does not make an individual a lunatic.”
This is the informed assertion of National Coordinating Director of The Caribbean Voice [TCV], Mr. Nazim S. Hussain. In fact, Hussain has made it clear that suicide is a mental health issue and therefore requires medical attention in much the way other health issues do.
It is for this reason that Hussain is passionately continuing his campaign, through TCV, to hopefully force policymakers to decriminalize attempted suicide.
“Now people don’t say they commit cancer or commit diabetes if someone dies from these diseases. Why are we saying commit suicide if you die from suicide? Suicide is an ailment and it should not be seen as illegal for someone to have those thoughts…It is an illness not a crime,” Hussain posited.
TCV has been unyielding in its advocacy for all persons who would have attempted suicide to be subjected to mandatory mental health counselling sessions. The counselling process, according to Hussain, must go hand in hand with decriminalising of the act.
“This is necessary, because if you attempt suicide and you did not succeed, you will not receive the mental health counselling that you require,” said Hussain, as he insisted that attempted suicide should no longer be viewed as a criminal act, since it is in fact a cry for help resulting from a mental health breakdown.
Moreover, the TCV National Coordinating Director went on to share that “it is a myth that you cannot stop someone from committing suicide. It can be stopped! It can be prevented with the right kind of application,” he insisted.
He revealed that when suicide was presented as a crime many years ago, it was due to the fact that the psychologists and psychoanalysts of that era did not understand the structure of the human mind and the fact such thoughts constituted mental illness.
For this very reason, he related that those with thoughts of suicide who opted to carry out the act were reduced to criminals. Criminalizing attempted suicide was meant to serve as a deterrent.
But, according to Hussain, “it came out afterwards that suicide is hinged on mental health illness and as a consequence, like any other physical illnesses, it needs to be treated and it can be prevented.”
However, Hussain considered that the challenge that persons with suicide ideations face is that they are at times discriminated against when they seek medical attention. For this reason, Hussain said, “some of them do not have the mindset to easily go and seek counseling, because people might say that they are mad, but that is a myth, and we are working to address…that mental illness is not equivalent to being a lunatic”.
Hussain noted that there are many forms of mental illnesses.
“Even bad sleeping patterns are a mental illness or bad eating patterns are also forms of mental illnesses. Remember everything about the body and its actions are from the brain…so the brain edits our actions,” Hussain explained.
Although TCV has been working tirelessly to educate the public that suicide can be prevented, Hussain highlighted that government as well as several other non-governmental organizations [NGOs] have been making similar strides.
“I applaud the government and several other NGOs for their work in trying to create greater awareness too,” said Hussain, who is however convinced that “much more attention must be paid to mental illness issues and we must start the suicide awareness from the level of the schools”.
Meanwhile, Hussain has also been advocating for keen attention to be paid to family values. Taking such a tactical approach, he noted, could help to uncover the root cause of many societal issues with the view of addressing them.
“There are some cases of domestic violence that are triggered by alcohol abuse. For example, there is a party and everybody is imbibing, then the party ends and mommy and daddy ‘buse’ and fight and cuss up. That is an ideation that the children are learning from an early age and that is a Guyanese culture,” Hussain said. He added, “When men abuse their wives, the boys [sons] see it and they do it too and the girls [daughters] see their mother endure it and they think they have to endure it too, but that should not be the case.”

About caribvoice

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