SEVERAL Government officials, including Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, together with leaders from across all religious backgrounds and members of civil society, gathered at the Anna Catherina Islamic Complex (ACIC) on Friday evening for a “Voices against Violence” candlelight vigil.The event, which highlighted the need for all stakeholders to play their part in the fight against violence, suicide, and other social ills in society, was organised by the ACIC in collaboration with The Caribbean Voice (TCV). Held under the theme “Connect, Communicate, Care”, the vigil was an initiative intended to send a strong message to communities involved in anti-violence activism, while fostering the concept of communal action for community well-being.
Delivering the feature address at the event, held in the lecture hall of the complex, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo congratulated the ACIC and the TCV for planning the event. “It is a great educational session. There are things said here this evening that I have not heard said before — and with such simplicity –addressing the issue of domestic violence, the issue of suicide, the issue of alcohol abuse; drug abuse as well.”
The Prime Minister appealed to the gathering to get involved in trying to save the life of a loved one who might be a victim of domestic violence, or someone who is affected by issues which can lead them to commit suicide.
“There is no one cause of suicide, suicide is sometimes done for the most pathetic reasons. I have had suicide in my family: one (member) committed suicide for the sake of love. There is no such thing as ‘love suicide’; it is death, and not love. And even if you play around, and if you play around or fool around, you can do that with any other thing, not your life,” the Prime Minister advised.
He explained that there is a great need to communicate. “Speak to each other. Identify members of your family who are depressed, who might have a problem; try to help them solve the problem, because you have one life, and that life should be treated as a treasure,” he admonished.
Representing Social Cohesion Minister Amna Ally, Government Member of Parliament John Adams said suicide does not end the chances of life getting worse, but eliminates the possibility of life getting better.
“We need to rid our country of this scourge, it is now a national epidemic; it has no race, and it affects everyone. Last week we were in Region Six, where we set up a regional committee that will deal with suicide. I trust that after we leave here tonight, the ACIC, along with the regional administration for Region Three, can have a committee in place to deal with suicide; to see how best we (can) help those persons who are troubled,” Adams declared.
He also said: “Our Government is willing to work with any organisation that decides to help in saving lives. We need to put an end to suicide, and these lights that we lit tonight must give us hope (that) all is not lost.”
Representing Regional Executive Officer Denis Jaikarran, Assistant Regional Executive Officer Hardyal Hardatt said officials of the 14 neighbourhood democratic councils within Region Three must be involved and engaged in the process of saving lives, since they deal more directly with the residents.
“It is wise that we get them onboard, so we can have a broad base within the region and the committees that we will form… Life needs to be preserved and promoted, so we have to sensitise our people, and do that in the correct way,” the AREO said.
In his remarks, Mental Health Therapist Dr. Mark Constantine said Guyana has seen a startling rise in the number of suicide cases; and many families, friends, and even the nation are questioning why.
Dr. Constantine expressed his belief that many people die by suicide because depression is triggered by several negative life experiences for which persons who commit suicide do not receive help.
“Know what the symptoms of depression are, and remember that any untreated mental illness — including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and others — may cause suicide,” Dr. Constantine advised.
In his remarks, Malcolm Harripaul, representing the Ministry of the Presidency, advocated that a stand should be taken against domestic violence and suicide in Guyana, since those scourges lead to destruction of society.
Reverend Ronald Mc Garrell, representing the Universal Peace Federation, called for a more serious role to be played in engaging children to find out the issues affecting them, so the worst-case scenarios can be avoided.
General President of the ACIC, Hakeem Khan, in providing an overview of the initiative, said the overall objective is to begin the process of community taking ownership for its safety. “That process is expected to also create the environment for NGOs to collaborate with community leaders and organisations to hold community empowerment sessions and help implement anti-violence training,” Khan said. (GINA)