Jan 08, 2016 News
“We are above average and that is disturbing,” said President David Granger of the state of suicide in Guyana. The Head of State’s utterance was made yesterday even as he convened an emergency meeting to plot the way forward to address suicide, which has been described as a “scourge”.
The outcome of the meeting, moreover, which saw the attendance of key Ministers, was a Plan of Action that will see Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Religious Organisations and other Civil Society Organisations being engaged to work together with Government on a centralised approach to suicide prevention.
The meeting yesterday followed on the heels of a double suicide which occurred Wednesday at East Bank Berbice. The victims of that tragedy were a pregnant 14-year-old and a 20-year-old man.
Among those deliberating with President Granger yesterday on the issue of suicide were Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton; Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Volda Lawrence; Minister of Social Cohesion, Ms. Amna Ally; Minister within the Ministry of Health, Dr. Karen Cummings; Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Ms. Valerie Garrido-Lowe and Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Ms. Dawn Hastings, at the Ministry of the Presidency.
President Granger at the meeting made it clear that he intends to have a hands-on approach to addressing the issue of suicide and will be looking to implement a national programme that has measurable outcomes.
During the meeting, too, he spoke of the implementation of Guyana’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy which was launched by the Ministry of Public Health, last September, with a view to ramping up Government’s response to the ongoing problem.
In addition, the President was provided with updates on work being done within the other subject Ministries.
Earlier in the day, the President told local journalists, during his weekly recording of the television programme, ‘The Public Interest’, that much more needs to be done and he intends to bring together international organisations and civil society organisations to ensure that all of the factors related to suicide are identified and addressed.
“I am concerned as President that Guyana has a higher rate of suicide than other countries. It is not as though there is an average around the world and we are just average…”
President Granger moreover issued a call to parents, guardians, teachers and church leaders to be more sensitive and understanding of the emotional matters that affect young people. He said that, “the church needs to be more careful, the home needs to be more careful, peers need to be more careful. It is a delicate period, but the state cannot bear the full burden of counselling, the home is where these matters should be resolved.”
The President affirmed that his Administration intends to do all that is possible, especially since many of the victims of this scourge are young people, in whose hands the country’s future lies. He explained too, that the circumstances and conditions under which people live need to be examined to understand the underlying factors responsible for the high suicide rate.
“I intend to find out why we have so many suicides and once we identify those factors, try to use Governmental action and try to get the efforts of civil society and households to put this scourge to an end. We are above normal and I want to find out if it’s social, if it’s cultural, or if it’s economic and bring an end to it… we know what the disease is, let’s find out what the cures are.” the Head of State said.
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