New suicide prevention commission could be set up in two weeks’ time

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The Ministry of Health is seeking to establish a new suicide prevention commission in two weeks’ time, in keeping with the new Suicide Prevention law passed recently in the National Assembly.

This is according to the Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony. He told the News Room on Tuesday that his ministry will soon write to various agencies seeking representatives for the Commission.

“We’ll write them formally and they’ll send us the representatives.

“…Once they respond, we’ll form the Commission,” Dr. Anthony said.

The Commission shall consist of several ex officio members, namely, the Chief Medical Officer, the Chief Psychiatrist, the Director of the Health Ministry’s Mental Health Unit, Director of the Child Care and Protection Agency and the Chief Education Officer.

Members to be appointed by the Minister of Health include: a medical practitioner, a psychiatrist, a nurse nominated by the Guyana Nurses Association, an attorney-at-law nominated by the Guyana Bar Association, two social workers nominated by the Guyana Association of Professional Social Workers, a representative of the Police nomination by the Commissioner of Police, a representative of the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security nominated by the subject minister, a representative of civil society nominated by the Private Sector Commission, a representative of the indigenous community nominated by the National Toshaos’ Council and a representative of the Muslim, Hindu and Christian communities.

The Suicide Prevention Commission will be tasked with planning, designing and implementing a health programme to reduce suicides and attempted suicides.

Their responsibilities will include preparing a national suicide prevention plan among other responsibilities. The body, comprising of various stakeholders, will also advise the Health Minister on laws that need to be strengthened or enforced to enable policies and suicide countermeasures.

The Commission will be empowered by the new suicide prevention law.

A comprehensive and transformational Suicide Prevention Bill 2022 was passed in the National Assembly, enacting the decriminalisation of suicide in Guyana and marking a major step in the country’s move to address mental health countrywide.

The law seeks to provide measures to fight the high number of occurrences of suicide that have pervaded Guyana’s society for a number of years.

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