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Feb 06, 2016 Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon
I did a column on September 9, 2014 captioned, “Suicide in Guyana also has a political cause to it.” Here is a lengthy extract from that article; “I would have preferred to see a study of suicide done by a Guyanese academic living and researching in Guyana. The advantages to the research are tremendous, comparatively speaking.
“And I suspect, the findings may not be as conclusive as they should be. The Dutch researcher found mainly sociological reasons for the high rate of suicide. But these categories could mask an underlying cause – the political pessimism that has dogged this country since Independence. A statistical analysis would reveal two salient characteristics of Guyanese suicidal acts – young people and more prevalence among rural East Indians.”
The pessimism young people feel about not achieving self-worth is present even in rich industrialized societies, much less in a poor, disheveled, horribly deprived land as Guyana is. What is driving suicidal inclinations is the uncontrollable angst among the young.
They look at the pictures of the world on the net, they use social media and they see a world that they feel Guyana should belong to. But they have to face the reality that not in their lifetime will Guyana become even semi-modern much less like what they see in other countries.
There have been many suicides among UG students the past ten years. Students feel that they cannot cope at a University that offers absolutely nothing and is absolutely bare. But they are expected to perform like students at any other resourceful University. The result is mental breakdown and suicide. I have seen this madness several times at UG.
The East Indian youth has an added disadvantage. Unlike urban African kids, the parents and Hindu and Muslim leaders of rural Indians promised them a paradise after their hero and his party came to power in 1992. But it turned out to be a nightmare.
The PPP that the Indian folks so idolized, has become monsters in their eyes. The rural young Indian sees a Guyana that offers them nothing and mental anxiety is what they live with. The visa valve is closed off so life becomes too burdensome to bear. Statistics show that Indians have migrated in larger numbers between 2000 and 2013 than anytime after 1980.” (End of quote)
This has been a long quote which has taken up much space but I found it trenchantly relevant thus its reproduction. The Dutch researcher lacked any experience in Guyana and may have wanted to stay away from anything that would have offended the government of the day.
The same thing could have happened with a local scholar simply because they may obscure their findings for fear of being accused of making political pronouncements. But looked at from any angle this is academic dishonesty.
There is supposed to be a group headed by Mr. Anand Boodram from a New York paper named Caribbean Voice conducting research into suicide. Mr. Boodram is a strong advocate of Indian political life in Guyana. Mr. Boodram isn’t going to admit that the long years of PPP misrule contributed to the alarming rate of suicide among East Indian folks from the rural sections of Guyana.
Mr. Boodram should ask his Indian rights colleagues like Ravi Dev what 23 years of PPP rule did for Black Bush Polder which is classified as the suicide capital of the world. No sociological study of suicide in this country will be complete unless it makes the connection between stress and suicide.
Take the University of Guyana. Where over the long years did those students get the books, journals and manuscripts to do their research? Yet they were expected to produce top class research comparable to first rate universities. To get their grades, to get a course change, to get a clash of classes resolved, entailed terrible stress. A few of them could not cope. They committed suicide. I attended one such death at Crane over the West Coast. Students complained to me with tears in their eyes.
Guyana is a country that is almost impossible to live in. The stress it brings to its population cannot be handled by the younger folks. I dropped off a young lady to the car park. She was going to her niece’s birthday. I asked what present she bought. She said none because getting time off from her work place is hard.
People complained to me with tears in their eyes about the impossibility of getting a court document from the Deeds Registry or a Birth Certificate. Imagine what they endure at GPL or GWI or the NIS or Lands and Survey. Guyana’s breakdown is connected to our suicide rate.
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