Guyana not officially represented at Caribbean symposium on suicide

Dear Editor,

The International Association for Suicide Prevention’s (IASP) Third Caribbean Regional Symposium on Suicide was held in Trinidad & Tobago from May 2 to 4. Guyana was not officially represented even though its suicide rate and concomitants were highly discussed. Is this a signal from the government that suicide has now been placed on the back burner?

     At the Second Caribbean Regional Symposium on Suicide held in December 2015 in the Cayman Islands, there was a focus on youth suicide prevention as well as a gatekeepers’ training programme. A delegation from the government of Guyana attended that symposium. Yet to date, neither has any specific youth suicide prevention measure been implemented nor has the gatekeepers’ training programme been introduced.

At that Cayman Islands symposium also, a representative from the government spoke with UWI’s toxicologist and founder/head of UWI’s poison control centre, Dr. Verrol Simmons, and indicated to him that the Guyana government would employ his services in addressing pesticide suicide. At the recent third symposium in Trinidad & Tobago, Dr. Simmons disclosed that he never heard back from that individual or the government.

Dr. Simmons also indicated that once a person ingests poison, critical first steps can be taken right there and then to start the life-saving process. There is no doubt that such information is desperately needed in Guyana for training and for nationwide dissemination.

As well, Dr. Simmons can provide technical and other assistance with respect to the poison control centres, which were supposed to have been established in mid 2016, according to a January 2016 disclosure in the media by Dr. Shamdeo Persaud. To date no such centre has ever been set up. Once again is this a signal from the government that suicide has now been placed on the back burner?

Yours faithfully,

Annan Boodram

The Caribbean Voice

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