By Malisa Playter Harry
Under the theme ‘Connect, communicate, care’, Guyanese on Saturday evening joined with the rest of the world to observe World Suicide Prevention Day 2016. To mark the occasion, candle light vigils were hosted at several locations across the country by religious and human rights bodies.
News Room visited the Berbice Central Arya Samaj which hosted its vigil in collaboration with the Guyana Women In Development (GUYWID) and Guyanese Families Unite in Service and Education (GUYFUSE).
The vigil was held under the theme “say yes to life and no to suicide”.
Participants engaged in a walk that began at Canefield, Canje and concluded at the Welfare Community Centre Ground, East Canje Berbice.
Children, persons who attempted suicide, persons who lost someone to suicide along with regional representatives joined in the event to show their support to persons experiencing depression.
During a short ceremony hosted at the Community Centre Ground, a representative from GUYWID shared her experience of having lost two persons to suicide.
“I lost both a brother and sister to suicide. Sometimes you miss the signs and there is a feeling of guilt when you lose someone to suicide” she pointed out as she underscored the need have faith and stay strong.
“Don’t think that ending your life is the answer, love life, life is beautiful” she urged.
A young man by the name of Mahendra Phagwah who recently lost a relative, 16-year-old Marissa Singh to suicide, delivered a speech on behalf of the community’s youths.
He spoke of the trials faced by his relative that may have been the reason for her committing suicide, however, he noted that “we are the cause of the scourge but we also hold the solution”.
These and other stories were the highlights of the evening as the vigil was deemed a success.
Berbice is currently the county with the highest suicide rate for 2016. Most recently, the Ministry of Public Health has partnered with the Ministry of Social Protection and the Region Six Democratic Council to address several social ills facing the county with the formation of a task force.
Other vigils were hosted this evening by the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha in collaboration with other NGOs including Caribbean Voices, the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) in partnership with “Voices Against Violence”, among others, at various locations across the country.
The Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha noted that the vigils seek to “give courage to those who are coping with Mental Health disorders including depression, to those who have lost loved ones to suicides, to those who are survivors of attempted suicides and to raise the awareness about this terrible thing that robs too many families and communities of loved ones.”
Meanwhile, SASOD said “considering the vulnerabilities and risks the LGBT Guyanese face everyday, most persons suffer silently from mental health challenges due to stigma, homophobic and transphobic discrimination and other related factors such as intimate partner violence and depression.”
The World Health Organization estimates that over 800,000 people die by suicide each year – that’s one person every 40 seconds.
If you or anyone is feeling depressed and possibly contemplating suicide, please call the Guyana Inter-agency Suicide Helpline which operates 24 hours, and is organised by the Guyana Police Force. Telephone -223-0001, 223-0009, 223-0818 Cellphone – 600-7896, 623-4444.