Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) united on Saturday evening to spread hope during several countrywide vigils in observance of World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD).
The vigils were organised by The Caribbean Voice (TCV), the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), Prevention Of Teenage Suicide (POTS), the Leo Club, the Miss Global International Guyana Team, the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, and other religious groups in all three counties of Guyana.
POTS Guyana, an organisation formed by activist Lisa Punch, hosted its vigil at Square of the Revolution where a handful gathered to light candles in an effort to inspire suicidal persons to live.
POTS vice president, Ruth English–Wilson, told Guyana Times that the vigil is meant to reach out to persons who are going through a difficult time and to remember those who ended their own lives.
“We saw it fit to do a candlelight vigil standing in solidarity with Guyana’s fallen children, those who are still suffering from depression and being sad and are thinking of suicide and even the survivors, because anything can trigger them. So we are standing in solidarity and in prayer for all those we lost already, for the persons who are still holding on and for those who have survived,” she stated.
The youth activist urged those who are suffering to reach out to support networks for help, for advice and counselling, reminding that no one has to go through troubling times alone.
“We are here to give you help and give you encouragement,” she stated, noting that POTS can be contacted for any emergencies concerning suicide and related incidents.
Pastor Diego Alphonso, delivering a speech on behalf of the Social Protection Minister, Volda Lawrence, at the vigil, urged NGOs to intensify their efforts and reach out to areas in the countryside where the scourge of suicide is more prevalent.
“We need the commitment of more agencies and NGOs to work harder to remove the stigma and taboo of suicide. We have to get at the root of its prevalence; we must be educated to recognise the signs. We need to commit as a nation to remove ourselves from the top position for suicide in world circles. We can ill afford to bear this high cost of precious lives,” he relayed.
The Leo’s Club hosted its vigil at the St Stanislaus College on Brickdam, Georgetown, where a handful of lions, along with a few Miss Universe delegates turned out to participate.
Carol Lovell, representative of both the Leo’s Club and TCV, lamented that not a lot is being done to help persons who are in need and therefore, the vigil was being used as a call for action.
“People need to become more aware. We need to give a helping hand and a big brother support to those who are going through difficult times so that they will know the meaning of life and want to hang on and continue living.”
In this regard, Lovell called on the government to implement initiatives in school where there are counsellors who develop relationships with students, whereby they would be comfortable to confide their troubles without fear.
The Dharmic Sabha at its vigil in Anna Regina Car Park saw scores of persons in attendance.
Organiser Sursattie Singh advised those who are suffering with suicidal thoughts to remain positive and trust in God.
“There is always another way out than ending your life, talk to someone, be someone’s keeper, life is worth living.”
Meanwhile, Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton, pledged his commitment on Friday at a forum in New Amsterdam to address suicide in the East Berbice/Corentyne region.
Also, the Public Health Ministry on Sunday hosted a Suicide Prevention Walk in order to raise awareness of the pandemic and call on the nation to get up and take action with the aim of saving a life.
Persons can reach the suicide prevention hotline on 600-7869, 623-4444, 223-0001, or 223-0009.