Take time to ask ‘How are you doing today?’

Dear Editor,

In our three years of suicide prevention activism in Guyana there has and continues to be one recurring denominator: the lack of communication. Invariably people who commit or attempt suicide never talk to someone about what they’re going through. While this is not unusual, those around such persons – loved ones, friends, significant others – never seem to grasp the need to take a few minutes of their time to ask ‘How are you feeling today?’ Yet such a question, sincerely asked, with the willingness to listen without judging, can open the floodgates and start the process whereby help can be sought for the person unloading.

So we ask everyone who is struggling or may struggle with weighty concerns that lead to anxiety or depression (the two states that drive suicide) to reach out to another person and ask for help.  We guarantee you that such help can and will ensure that you’re able to deal with your concerns and move on in life. It is this reaching out that has enabled The Caribbean Voice to successfully implement counselling interventions saving hundreds of lives.  Even as this letter is written we are currently engaged in three counselling cases in Guyana and doing pre-counselling outreach with respect to three others.

We also appeal to everyone to take a few minutes of their time every day to talk to someone. Observe the person’s body language, ask sincerely about the person’s welfare and upon the slightest observation that something may not be right, reach out and seek help.  Please note that ‘something not right’ does not have to be negative. For example one person who recently committed suicide had suddenly become very outgoing, visiting and interacting with relatives and friends and seemingly rather happy. This behaviour was not usual for that person and had a family member recognized that such a change could signal something not right and reached out for help this person could still have been alive. This is the other way in which TCV has been able to save lives – by responding to appeals made by loved ones who felt something was not right.

And let us make it very clear, that reaching out for professional help is the way to go since an untrained person may very well cause more harm, as research has found. TCV’s technical team of highly qualified and experienced counsellors have undertaken more than 250 cases during the three years of our campaign and not a single person went on to commit suicide. This makes it clear that suicide is eminently preventable.  And so, we also ask that each one of you also helps in passing on this message in addition to practising it yourself; five minutes of your time each day can save a life!

TCV is a fully voluntary organization comprising about sixty persons from Guyana, the UK and North America who give of their time, efforts and resources to engage in suicide prevention and anti-abuse in Guyana. We have no overheads so every cent goes directly towards our work.

Also every member involved in activism covers his/her own expenses so no money goes into anyone’s pocket. And we invite you to join us in this undertaking to save lives and empower people. Please do touch base with us if you would consider joining us on this journey, need info or have to refer someone for help – caribvoice@aol.com, or via phone at 644 1152 or 646 4669.

Remember five minutes of your time each day can save a life. Please stop to sincerely ask, “How are you doing today?”

Yours faithfully,

Annan Boodram

The Caribbean Voice

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