Caribbean Voice to target violence as part of latest anti-suicide campaign

Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton (second, from left), National Coordinator of the Caribbean Voice Nizam Hussain (second, from right), Miss Guyana World and official spokesperson for the Caribbean Voice Ambika Ramraj (left) and Training and Education Director of the Caribbean Voice, Leslyn Holder ( right) at the launch of the campaign yesterday. (Terrence Thompson photo)

Non-Governmental Orga-nisation the Caribbean Voice yesterday launched its third annual anti-suicide campaign, for which Minister of Social Cohesion Dr. George Norton has agreed to be the patron.

For this year’s campaign, the Caribbean Voice, which focuses heavily on raising awareness for the prevention of suicide, has decided to also focus on curbing violence.

According to Nizam Hussain, the organization’s National Coordinator, who was speaking at a press conference yesterday, suicide in recent times has been accompanied by some level of violence, primarily spousal abuse, and therefore, the organization has embarked on raising awareness about the situation.  “The Caribbean Voice and our collaborators are happy to include the Ministry of Social Cohesion and are cognizant that unless we can spread the awareness that is requisite and how people can get help and where they can get help, we will continue at this rate. It is vital that we get our message across,” Hussain added.

Hussain noted too that World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), which is observed annually on September 10th, was designated by the United Nations to create awareness for suicide prevention, something the organization intends to do with the hosting of its third annual vigil.

The anti-suicide and anti-violence campaign will run for one month and will culminate with a countrywide vigil on the evening of September 9th.

According to Hussain, they already have a number of organizations on board, including the   Dharmic Sabha, The Charity Church of Christ, and several other religious and non-religious organizations.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Social Cohesion, in brief remarks, encouraged other Guyanese to join the campaign as a means of intensifying the fight against suicide and violence. 

“As the Minister of Social Cohesion, I call on my fellow Guyanese to get on board this initiative. As a people it is important for us to be united against all form of social ills and I believe that by observing this vigil, would be a great start. Today’s media’s launch is intended to appeal to persons and groups from all across Guyana, we want you to not only observe the vigil but to join forces with Caribbean Voice and other bodies that are working towards ending suicide and violence all together,” Norton said.

Alluding to a 2014 report, on suicide statistics in Guyana, presented by the World Health Organisation which produced “immensely damning” findings, the Minister said Guyana has since embarked on an aggressive fight to develop a suicide prevention plan.

“In 2015, Guyana was one of the few countries that had moved aggressively to develop a suicide prevention plan and I am happy today to state that Guyana’s suicide rate has dropped, and I know for a fact that one little village that was known for having one suicide every six weeks, I can safely say that for the longest while, that has not been the case. While international articles are quoting this drop by a particular percent, I know for a fact that my colleagues at the Ministry of Health, particularly the Mental Health Unit are working on an official report. I say this to let you know that efforts of persons and groups all across the country are making a difference and we would not stop. I encourage more persons to join in the fight against suicide and violence, let us all unite for a good cause,” Norton added.

The Caribbean Voice has already planned a countrywide awareness training and capacity building for suicide prevention and is now embarking on more in-depth training for its anti-violence programme. It is also exploring a house-to-house campaign in suicide hotspots across Guyana. (Mariah Lall)

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