It is time to act not mourn

A section of the gathering at the National Stakeholders Conference on Suicide Prevention
A section of the gathering at the National Stakeholders Conference on Suicide Prevention

National Suicide Conference

– President Granger tells stakeholders  

…concedes more resources, personnel needed to reverse trend


Intense collaborative efforts combined with the pooling of resources are needed in order to develop a holistic approach to address the raging suicide contagion in the country, according to President David Granger.

The Head of State was at the time underscoring the importance of the National Stakeholders Conference on Suicide Prevention which was held on Wednesday at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre in Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown.

The conference was attended by a number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and social activists who will be brainstorming to develop ideas and initiatives which they can embark upon together, to raise awareness, speak up and reach out to persons who may be at risk of ending their lives.

Granger acknowledged that the country’s suicide rate seems to be spiralling out of control, with many entities involved in the struggle to curb the growing incidents.

However, he pointed out that the country’s lack of resources and human capacity are the underlying reasons behind the little headway made in this regard.

President Granger explained that numerous initiatives have been attempted to address the suicide epidemic but none ever made a lasting impact in curbing the scourge.

He also stressed that more information needs to become available for stakeholders’ guidance in responding the reports of suicide.

More research needed

For information to become available, President Granger said there needs to be more investigations and research on the causes of suicide before one tries to prescribe a remedy.

“Happy people don’t kill themselves,” Granger reminded.

Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton in his address to the forum also underscored the need for a holistic approach in addressing the suicide epidemic in the country.

“Everyone has a role to play in tackling this scourge and it is for this reason that, as Minister for Public Health, I sincerely thank you all for coming on board, for this serves as great encouragement for the Ministry to bring to reality its plan to correct the situation of suicide in Guyana,” he expressed, as he made reference to the National Mental Health Action Plan 2015-2020 and the Suicide Prevention Plan.

Minister Norton highlighted also that suicide not only affects persons directly connected to a particular situation but the entire country at large.

“Suicide has opened a major ripple effect on the placid lifestyle in the hinterland villages as well as in urban communities,” he stated.

Providing an overview of the Mental Health Action Plan 2015-2020 was Dr Jorge Balseiro of the Mental Health Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital.

In his remarks, Dr Balseiro outlined some of the causes and means of suicide in Guyana, as well as what needs to be done in order to inform people of other ways of dealing with their problems rather than ending their lives.

Dr Balseiro disclosed that there needs to be meetings with stakeholders in all 10 administrative regions, adding that this initiative has started; the need for rigorous training among stakeholders (this has also commenced); and the need for a massive and extensive information campaign in order to reach out to people.

Pan American Health Organisation/ World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) Country Representative, Dr William Adu-Krow in his speech, pointed to the fact that there is hope for Guyana, as he made reference to other countries that managed to overcome their high suicide rates.

“China had the same issue and China was able to control it… incidentally, in the case of China, the means of suicide was also the ingestion of pesticides… so if China can do it, then we can do it,” he said.

He also pointed to Suriname, which had the highest suicide per capita in the world six years ago, but managed to lower its ranking to number six in the world.