Suicide is not the forte of any group, ethnic or otherwise

Dear Editor,

In his letter of November 16, Abu Bakr cited a passing reference from an October 8, 2013 letter of mine, as ‘proof’ that he and I had an exchange on suicide. I suppose we will have to agree to disagree as to the connotations of the term ‘exchange’ (‘Has been looking at suicide phenomenon for years’). The reference also reinforces the contention that in so far as the government of the day would have been responsible for any factors that exacerbated suicide, it cannot escape blame. Surely Mr Bakr is not suggesting that the factors catalyzing suicide have absolutely nothing to do with government in office? As I pointed out previously we also did apportion blame for the current suicide crisis to the PPP government that followed the PNC in power.

Mr Bakr’s quote also validates my position that at no point did I ever, implicitly or explicitly, indicate that this responsibility of the government was a ‘trope’ for Black people. As I previously stated, this assertion is wholly and solely Mr Bakr’s intellectual property.

Also, Mr Bakr perpetuates his intellectual dishonesty by cherry picking (the fallacy of incomplete evidence) in relation to suicide to create a particular impression about suicide being a specific ethnic problem. In fact, the list of top 25 nations with the highest suicide rates in the world does not support such a conclusion at all: 1. Guyana; 2. North Korea; 3. South Korea; 4. Sri Lanka; 5. Lithuania; 6. Suriname; 7. Mozambique; 8. United Republic of Tanzania; 9. Nepal; 10. Kazakhstan; 11. Burundi; 12. India; 13. South Sudan; 14. Turkmenistan; 15. Russia; 16. Uganda; 17. Hungary; 18. Japan; 19. Belarus; 20. Zimbabwe; 21. Bhutan; 22. Sudan; 23. Comoros; 24. Ukraine; 25. Poland.

As the World Health Organization states, “Suicide is a global phenomenon in all regions of the world…” While “Nearly 30% of all suicides worldwide occur in India and China” it must be noted that these two nations comprise almost 40% of the global population. Furthermore, “Overall, suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death for all US Americans,” while globally it is the 10th leading cause of death. And suicide rates have increased by 60% globally over the past 45 years.

In effect suicide is not the forte of any specific group – ethnic or otherwise. Yet “effective and evidence-based interventions can be implemented at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts.” And for such implementation, the government in power has the greatest responsibility. Is it not time therefore that we stop attempting to pigeonhole suicide as ‘us v them’, in a blame game to cast aspersions on any particular group, gain political mileage and/or score cheap points, and instead, recognize that suicide prevention is everybody’s business? Again I invite Mr Bakr to join us in this endeavour to save lives.


Yours faithfully,

Annan Boodram

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