As an eighteen year old student studying overseas, I was deeply distraught when I read the story about the recent suicide of a young woman at Kaieteur Falls. Over the past few days, I have been doing some critical thinking about what happened and about what can cause Guyana to have the highest suicide rate in the world, being such a small nation with less than one million citizens. I could not chalk these statistics up to anything other than a flawed government and flawed system. It baffles me that all the various parties and presidents that have held office have failed to come up with a comprehensive solution to this problem, among the many other problems plaguing the Guyanese population at large.
In my opinion the first step to combating this suicide phenomenon is for the government to place guidance counsellors and social workers in all schools at the tertiary, secondary and primary levels, and also make it mandatory for some companies to provide access to therapists, etc, for their employees.
No one knows what crosses or burdens these victims are bearing. We may see them walking down the street with a smile as bright as day but they may have deep-seated problems, whether at home with their families, relationship problems, problems with friends and peers, among others. We need to establish a system whereby a teacher will send certain students who exhibit certain signs or behaviours to the guidance counsellor so they may assess and help them accordingly.
Another thing that popped up in my train of thought was the fact that many persons living in Guyana are deeply oppressed. Many are working for a salary that stands below $100,000, which is equivalent to approximately US$500. I am a worker at a fast food joint and I make US$800, which is far more money than trained nurses and teachers in Guyana. Government officials are seeking a raise for themselves when in actuality they need to raise the minimum wage to no less than $100,000. Have those officials ever had to live on $40,000 a month when rent and bills are almost $30,000? It is absurd; persons should be working for a salary where they can afford to pay their obligations and yet afford some quality of life where they can take a vacation or spend time with family or afford to do something relaxing and meaningful to them. It is this sort of financial oppression that is causing drugs and crime to reign supreme in Guyana.
It is this sort of oppression that is causing us to lose our skilled workers to more developed nations where they are better paid and better appreciated.
On a last note, we need more engineers, more biologists, scientists, social workers, psychologists, computer engineers, etc, so that they can help come up with more ideas that can help propel the country forward. We need to change the stigma that accompanies the name Guyana as being the suicide capital of the world, or one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere. We need to do something; those old heads in power need to reach out and get younger generations more involved in government and government policy, since we are the ones whose future they are deciding on.