Reports are that the debate, supported by the Commonwealth Foundation and done through the Caribbean Association of Local Government Authority, was held under the theme, “Fostering of a democratic culture among schools and local communities”.
Coordinator of the activity on the Essequibo Coast, Mr Mohamed Shaheed, said students from the two schools also debated the topic, “Youths must be involved in Local Government”. He said the debate, held in the boardroom of the Anna Regina Town Council, allowed participants to share skills, and represent ideas as councillors would do.
The coordinator said the programme, which was started last November, involved a number of young persons between Charity and Zorg, on the Essequibo Coast, and the topic “Suicide among youths is preventable” was the first up for debating as the competition got started.
Moderator of the debate, Mr Rajendra Prabhulall, told students they would each be given five minutes to make their contribution to the topic. The Cotton Field Secondary School began the debate with the first speaker saying that suicide is one of the ways mostly used by young people to end their lives. She said young people can be forced to end their lives by suicide because of family issues, poverty and personal problems; and that suicide can be by hanging or by ingesting of poison.
She called for urgent action from the government to help young people, and said young people need to take their education seriously.
The second speaker said suicide is one of the leading causes of death among youths, and has occurred frequently because of mental illness and family violence. The student called for parents to be actively involved in the decision making of their children, and pointed out that parents are the ideal people to help reduce the stresses of their children.
She said sexual abuse can lead to stress, and eventually suicide; parents have a responsibility to protect their children from being molested and/or abused; and that parents should give their children courage by educating them and talking to them about the dangers of suicide.
The third speaker said suicide is not a solution to any problem. She called for the government to arrange weekly counselling sessions at schools to talk about the prevention of suicide. And she said that only people with mental problems attempt suicide.
The first speaker of the Anna Regina Multilateral School, Ms Karisma Jaigobin, said suicide is about a person killing himself/herself. She said youths should be encouraged to join youth groups, and should interact with each other and share ideas. She said suicide is the leading cause of death among youths today, and suicide is happening in Guyana largely because of new technology that purports to be development. She said the death rate on the Essequibo Coast is increasing because of suicide, and one reason for this is the pressure students are subjected to at schools. She said youths don’t want to be pressured, and they feel suicide is the only way to get out of the pressure.
She admonished parents not to pressure their children, and called on youths to speak out.
The second speaker said suicide, over the past years, has become a growing health concern among youths between 15 and 24 years old. She pointed to causes as psychological factors, mental factors, risk factors, and mental depression.
She said suicide can be prevented by educating persons, especially young persons, on the careful storage of poison and firearms. (Rajendra Prabhulall in Essequibo)