That BBC documentary on suicide…


Dear Editor
A VIDEO clip of a BBC ‘documentary’ on suicide in Guyana has been making the social media rounds. That clip is questionable in a number of ways. For one, the statistics referenced are inaccurate and in depth analysis is non-existent. As well, information about suicide is wrong. And little mention is made about the successes in suicide prevention over the years as a result of the hard work of NGOs and activists.

The statement that Guyanese joke about and trivialize suicide is awfully untrue. In fact, having done work on the ground in six of the ten regions in Guyana, The Caribbean Voice (TCV) can testify to the opposite–Guyanese take the issue of suicide very seriously and have been craving for education and training so they can become actively involved in suicide prevention. A survey commissioned by TCV in 2016 found that 96% of Guyanese were willing to engage in suicide prevention if provided with the requisite training.
Given the content of the video clip, one must ask why the following were not interviewed: NGOs, including Guyana Foundation, the Corriverton Domestic Violence Centre, Monique’s Helping Hands, Crossroads Suicide & Mental Health Awareness Services, Mibicuri Community Developers, and others that do substantive suicide prevention work; counselors who handle suicidal and suicide survivor cases and suicide survivors. As well why were no suicide hotspots visited?

This video was time and again brought to the attention of The Caribbean Voice by Guyanese from all walks of life, in and out of Guyana, who were disturbed by its contents. They all felt that BBC has trivialized an issue that Guyanese have been seriously tackling with some degree of success and implored TCV to publicly respond to the video.
The bottom line is that suicide is far too serious an issue to be superficially analyzed. It is an issue that has seen significant headway made by suicide prevention activists to tackle myths and misinformation and any documentary that promotes myths and misinformation is quite frankly one that seeks only to sensationalism. As well, like any media worth its salt, the BBC would know that professional reportage must be characterized by triangulation and by varied sources in order to ensure fair, objective and newsworthy reporting. We therefore urge the BBC to stop propagating a documentary that presents an inaccurate, sensationalized picture and do one that focuses on the reality, if it is genuinely interested in documenting suicide in Guyana.
The Caribbean Voice