Counselling is needed for anyone exhibiting suicide warning signs

Dear Editor,

The Caribbean Voice joins with others in expressing our angst that a young man had to take his life because of the stigma attached to his sexuality. Amidst the many issues arising out of this tragedy we would like to emphasize the necessity of counselling.

News reports indicate that the young cop was out partying with friends, some of whom knew of his intentions to take his own life and thought they had convinced him otherwise. The reality is that with respect to suicide ideation and/or warning signs, a layperson, no matter how well meaning, can end up pushing the individual faster towards suicide. And, as TCV and so many others have constantly been advocating, once suicide ideation is expressed or warning signs noted, it is critical to get someone with the necessary counselling credentials and experience to deal with situation.

In addition to the Suicide Helpline, counselling can be accessed through the National Psychiatric Institution at New Amsterdam, the Psych Ward at the Georgetown Public Hospital, the counselling centre at Corriverton (started by ex-magistrate Krisndat Persaud), Help and Shelter, Guyana Foundation, SASOD, Monique’s Helping Hands, Crossroads Suicide & Mental Health Awareness Services and The Caribbean Voice, among other NGOs and entities providing such services, mostly for free. As well every region has sociologists and/or welfare officers who do have some amount of counselling training as do a number of government agencies such as the Ministry of Public Health, Mental Health Unit, Childcare & Protection Agency, Various Regional Health Authorities, and so on. We urge all media to get hold of all contact information through which counselling can be accessed and publish them, even if once a month as a public service. As well we urge the Ministry of Health to compile all the available counselling services, private and public sector, and make them widely available via various avenues, including traditional and social media and flyers and posters.

The fact is that counsellors possess requisite training and experience to help patients improve their mood, cope with their diagnosis and change harmful behaviours. Counselling often focuses on stress management, coping skills and therapeutic education. The medium of communication is emphatic, geared towards being non-judgmental, non-threatening, and building comfort and trust, thereby making it easy for patients to verbalize their feelings and enabling them to work towards positive goals. Counselling also helps people to be able to dissect their problems then figure out how to solve them.

In Guyana there is a stigma attached to counselling as many feel that only ‘mad people’ need counselling.  It is important for this stigma to be eliminated so that seeking counselling becomes a normal, everyday desire, as long as the need for such counselling becomes necessary. And, again, The Caribbean Voice believes that the media can play a significant role in eliminating this stigma.

Incidentally we repeat our appeal for media to stop using the term ‘commit suicide’ and instead use ‘died by suicide’ or is/was a suicide victim. ‘Commit’ has connotations that criminalize suicide but suicide is most certainly not a criminal act.

The Caribbean Voice can be reached via email to caribvoice@aol.com or via Check out our website at www.caribvoice.org or our Facebook group page at facebook.com/caribvoice.

Yours faithfully,

Annan Boodram

The Caribbean Voice

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