News, Americas, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Tues. Nov. 24, 2015: A US-Guyana-based organization formed to fight against suicide in Guyana is calling for the urgent implementation of concrete measures to battle the problem in the South American nation amidst the death of another national there.
The Caribbean Voice, founded by Guyanese national Annan Boodram, says there needs to be an urgent national conversation to preventing suicide. His comments come as Roshinee Pagwah, 21, of Reliance Abandon, East Canje, Berbice, jumped into the 741-foot Kaiteur Falls on Saturday, November 21st.
The Guyana Chronicle newspaper reported that Pagwah had allegedly been suffering emotionally ever since her boyfriend committed suicide five years ago.
This incident comes just two months after Georgetown resident Gyaneshwarie “Laleta” Sivanand ended her life at Kaieteur Falls, reportedly due to relationship issues. Six years prior, another woman had done the same thing.
Suicide in Guyana is a serious social problem, as Guyana is ranked first in suicides per capita worldwide. About 40 percent of people who commit suicide in Guyana poison themselves by consuming agricultural pesticides
Boodram says there needs to be an urgent effort in Guyana to “educate and inform the public about the facts (of suicide) so as to dispel myths and misinformation.”
The Caribbean Voice recommends: “involving all stakeholders, but especially the media and the relevant government ministries and agencies,” in the dialogue, “harnessing community based entities such as sports, drama, youth, women and cultural clubs and mass based organizations such as political parties and religious and educational institutions” to spread the message that suicide is preventable and focusing on a “concerted and collaborative to ensure a national reach be premised on commonly accepted strategies and endeavors.”
The Voice says in Guyana, the known risk factors for suicide include:
- Sexually transmitted disease;
- Abuse (domestic, sexual, physical and mental);
- Teen pregnancy, incest, rape;
- Relationships: dysfunctional, triangular, teenager, separation, break ups;
- Alcoholism and drug abuse;
- The societal response to alternative sexual lifestyles – gays and lesbians;
- Problems that seem insurmountable – poverty, unemployment, handicaps, losses..
- Poor socialization and coping skills that lead to helplessness and hopelessness;
- A suicide contagion driven by the Werther Effect (copycatting), the Bollywood Effect (the ‘glorification’ of suicide in Bollywood movies and soaps) and a sort of socio cultural acceptance/internalization that suicide is an answer to life’s problems.
The Caribbean Voice also urges The Ministry of Education to identify all teachers who possess some level of social work or mental health training to be utilized as an interim measure and for every community to have “trained eyes and ears for proactive action” through the Gatekeepers’ Program.
TCV has offers the Shri Lankan Model of Hazard Reduction, which has a tremendous track record of reducing pesticide suicide but there are also a number of other relatively successful models used in Japan, Brazil, Western Samoa, New Zealand and these too can be considered.
Alternatively planned Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) training of Guyanese on how to treat persons who ingest pesticides, should ensure that there are enough trained personnel to be deployed nationwide, that they be adequately provided with antidotes, and that their duties include implementing steps to ensure secure storage and use of pesticides and disposal of containers, as well as ensure that only those who need such chemicals are enabled to purchase them.
And the group is urging the media to publicize the suicide hotlines and offer suicide prevention messages.