By Lara Pickford-Gordon
Last month (August, 2019) a 15-year-old committed suicide near his family home in Williamsville.
His family was shocked and confused since there were no signs to suggest he was suicidal. His father said he “seemed to be happy”, was doing well at school and involved in extra-curricular activities.
In February, a 16-year-old took her life reportedly after her mother confiscated her cell phone. In July, a Petrotrin worker committed suicide after becoming depressed from losing his job. These are a few cases that made the news. Many do not.
Suicide is a “pretty serious” problem in Trinidad and Tobago said Dr Gerard Hutchinson Professor of Psychiatry University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Faculty of Medical Sciences. Suicide attempts and self-harm have become quite prevalent.
Dr Hutchinson said T&T’s suicide rate “hovers between 11 and 15 per 100,000” with more males, in a ratio of about 3:1 compared to females. Guyana has the highest suicide rate for the Caribbean region with 29.2 per 100,000 and is ranked third in the world for suicide rates by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Health Ministry has called suicide a major public health issue. A National Suicide Prevention Strategy is being developed by the Ministry to reduce the prevalence of self-harm and suicide.
Prevention is the aim of Tuesday’s Suicide Prevention Day, organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) to galvanise the global community to engage with the problem of suicide and collaborate to spread awareness of suicide prevention.
IASP states, “Suicide prevention remains a universal challenge. Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. It is responsible for over 800,000 deaths, which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds”. Suicide also impacts others; IASP said for each suicide an estimated 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected.
“Suicidal behaviour includes suicide, and also encompasses suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. For every suicide, 25 people make a suicide attempt and many more have serious thoughts of suicide” https://www.iasp.info/wspd2019/.