President David Granger is spearheading an anti-suicide “action plan” by government, religious and non-governmental organisations.
“I intend to find out why we have so many suicides and once we identify those factors, try to use Governmental action and try to get the efforts of civil society and households to put this scourge to an end. We are above normal and I want to find out if its social, if its cultural, or if its economic and bring an end to it… we know what the disease is, let’s find out what the cures are,” said the President.
The decision was taken during an emergency ministerial meeting under the chairmanship of the Guyanese leader, following a double suicide Wednesday by 20-year-old Deeraj Persaud of Lonsdale and Sherry Ann Ally, 14, of Brother’s Village, East Bank Berbice. The bodies of the man and the pregnant girl were found hanging from a rafter at his house.
Participating in the ministerial meeting were Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Volda Lawrence, Minister of Social Cohesion, Ms. Amna Ally, Minister within the Ministry of Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Ms. Valerie Garrido-Lowe and Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Ms. Dawn Hastings at the Ministry of the Presidency with a view to charting a course to address this scourge.
President Granger has indicated that he intends to have a hands on approach to addressing this issue and will be looking to implement a national programme that has measurable outcomes. During the meeting, the President was also updated on the implementation of Guyana’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy, launched by the Ministry of Public Health, last September, with a view to ramping up Government’s response to the on-going problem. In addition, the President was provided with updates on work being done within the other subject Ministries.
Earlier in the day, the President told two local journalists, during the weekly recording of the television programme, ‘The Public Interest’, that much more needs to be done and he intends to bring together international organisations and civil society organisations to ensure that all of the factors related to suicide are identified and addressed. “I am concerned as President that Guyana has a higher rate of suicide than other countries. It is not as though there is an average around the world and we are just average. We are above average and that is disturbing,” he was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Ministry of the Presidency.
The Guyanese leader issued a call to parents, guardians, teachers and church leaders to be more sensitive and understanding of the emotional matters that affect young people. He said that, “the church needs to be more careful, the home needs to be more careful, peers need to be more careful. It is a delicate period but the state cannot bear the full burden of counselling, the home is where these matters should be resolved.”
The President affirmed that his administration intends to do all that is possible especially since many of the victims of this scourge are young people in whose hands the country’s future lies. He explained too, that the circumstances and conditions under which people live needs to be examined to understand the underlying factors responsible for the high suicide rate.