The blinding need for oblivion from harsh realities of overwhelming problems is the driver behind many persons seeking to quit life as the ultimate solution to difficult situations.
A person suffering from deep depression needs assurances that solutions can be found. Problems are not insurmountable, but coping with extant and future challenges necessitates one staying alive, not take what seems the easy way out, leaving much devastation in the wake of one’s action, especially the grief and guilt that surviving family members have to cope with.
Suicide is indeed a mental health problem, often precipitated by one catalysing factor at a moment’s impulse. This global phenomenon is a scourge affecting every nation of the world.
However, suicide is preventable, and education through generally interactive counselling sessions — especially in schools, churches and at various youth fora; as well as easily-accessible helplines that could provide timely interventions by way of a conduit, a compassionate listening ear, and provision of advice based on rational reasoning for revealing bad experiences and expressing negative emotions, especially impersonal ones — can serve to reduce the crippling pain to bearable levels, and enable rational thought that diffuses intentions of self-destruction.
In a national context, there needs to be a holistic approach involving multi-sectoral agencies, especially in the health, education, and social services sectors.
In a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Guyana was cited as the country with the highest suicide rate in the world — 44.2 suicides per 100,000 deaths, four times the global average.
The WHO report was an attempt to bring global attention to the issue of suicide. The goal was to encourage individual countries to take steps to prevent suicide, considering their specific culture and addressing local risk factors. In early 2015, Guyana became one of only 28 countries to develop a suicide prevention plan in response to the report. The plan identifies factors that could contribute to the country’s high rate of suicide.
Records reveal that approximately 70 per cent of the country’s suicides occur in rural regions, where many people assuage their feelings of hopelessness with overindulgence in alcohol to cope with their poverty and economic despair. Instead, the alcohol exacerbates depression in minds deprived of reasoning powers by alcohol-induced neurosis, precipitating suicidal thoughts.
Prioritising formulating a strategy for suicide prevention has become an imperative, because the consequence is not only the tragic, preventable loss of a life; but this one irreversible and tragic act has many victims, especially loved ones on whom is inflicted a lifetime of unendurable pain and emotional and psychological scars.
Guyana Government Psychologist and Addiction Specialist Caitlin Vieira avers that there is a lack of clinics and social support networks in some of these villages, but that there are plenty of rum shops. She says “sporting”, Guyanese slang for drinking, is a popular pastime.
Additionally, a study by the Pan American Health Organisation reported that nearly 80 per cent of Guyanese adolescents had their first drink before the age of 14, and some children try alcohol for the first time in elementary school.
Dysfunction in family constructs and bullying in schools and workplaces also contribute to Guyana’s high suicide rates.
Illicit drug usage has also become a major contributory factor to violent, anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse, oftentimes leading to murder and suicide.
Raising community awareness and breaking down the taboo is also important for countries like Guyana to make progress in preventing suicide.