Four suicides, ten attempts rock Santa Rosa

Stabroek News
January 9, 2007

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Four suicides and ten attempted suicides reportedly fuelled by alcoholism among other issues have rocked the hinterland community of Santa Rosa within recent weeks.

The problem has been discussed at the level of village representatives, according to reports, and one village elder commented on it at a public gathering.

Stabroek News understands that a non-governmental organisation in Georgetown had scheduled a two-day seminar on domestic violence in the area beginning on Thursday. While there the group is likely to look into the alarming development in the area.

This newspaper was told that domestic violence and marijuana abuse are the other issues fuelling suicides in the community.

Recently Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy announced that a National Suicide Prevention Committee which has already been established will be launched in February. He said this was one of the new initiatives to come on stream this year.

Suicide has been a serious health issue for some time now and concerns have been raised over the high incidence in areas across the country. Six years ago, while speaking of the high number of suicide cases in the country, Ramsammy made mention of the National Committee for the Prevention of Suicide crafting a national anti-suicide strategy. The body was newly-formed at the time and its aims were to organise and conduct workshops for parents, teachers, religious leaders, police officers and journalists on how to detect suicidal behaviour. It was also expected to establish crisis intervention centres in Berbice and at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation during 2001 and subsequently in other parts of the country.

Ramsammy had given the overall objectives of the programme as reducing premature deaths as a result of suicide; lowering the rates of suicidal behaviour; decreasing the harmful aftermath and the stigma associated with suicidal behaviour and the traumatic impact of suicide on family and friends; promoting awareness that suicide is preventable; and training more persons in recognising mental health problems.

The committee went to work but its stated objectives have not been realised.

A study in 2001 had found that eight out of every 10 suicides are committed by males; three out of every four suicides are by East Indians; the suicide rates are higher in Region Two and Region Six; 52.7% of all suicide cases occur in Berbice; two of every three persons who commit suicide in Guyana are young persons below the age of 35; and young adults 20 to 24 years are over-represented among those who commit suicide.