Reg. 5 hosts suicide prevention programme

School children at the programme in Region 5

THERE is need for a technical package to help in prioritisation of suicide prevention in Region Five (Mahaica/Berbice).

This observation was made by Regional Health Officer within the region, Dr Desmond Nicholson, during a programme by the Public Health Department to mark Suicide Prevention Day 2019, held at Fort Wellington West Coast Berbice on Tuesday. Dr Nicholson said that such a package for Region Five is urgent since the rates of suicide in Guyana published by the Mental Health Unit of the Ministry of Public Health in 2017, revealed that the region has the second highest rate of recorded suicides and self-harm incidents in the country.

Staffers of the Regional Health Department at a booth

He identified risk factors for suicide at individual, relationship, community and societal levels. Ingestion of pesticide, hanging and use of firearms are among the most common methods of suicide. He stressed that protective factors include effective coping and problem-solving skills, moral objections to suicide, strong and supportive relationships with partners, friends and family, connectedness to community and other social institutions, availability and quality and ongoing physical and mental health care and reduced access to lethal means.

Other speakers at the occasion included Dr Patrice Douglas, who represented the Minister of Health; Member of Parliament in Region Five, Ms Jennifer Wade and Regional Executive Officer Mr Ovid Morrison. A popular element of the programme was a skit by staff of the Mental Health Unit of the Department of Health within the region, which portrayed how suicide can follow from a sense of hopelessness, lack of social support as well as the easy availability of lethal means.

The day’s activities were preceded by a march of students and regional health personnel from the health centre at Woodley Park to the Regional Democratic Head Office Compound at Fort Wellington. The formal ceremony was followed by a health fair and exhibition at the same venue.