Hon. Minister of Health Dr. Ellis Lorenzo Webster
10 September, 2020
Today, September 10, is observed annually as World Suicide Prevention Day. World Suicide Prevention Day is organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and co-sponsored by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The purpose of this day is to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented.
According to the WHO, we lose about 800,000 people to suicide globally every year. This means that roughly 2,200 people take their lives each day. Anguilla, sadly, has not been immune to this concern as we too have experience our share of suicides over the years.
Suicide is now recognised as a public health issue in almost every country. Suicide rates have been increasing gradually to the extent that it has become one of a major cause of death worldwide. It is important for family members, friends and employers to identify the early warning signs and factors that can lead to suicide, so that there can be early appropriate interventions in order to save lives.
The literature shows that this year, the ongoing covid-19 pandemic has affected mental health in a major way. Staying at home, low physical activity, less socialising and unexpected changes in the way everything works has made it important to highlight suicide prevention.
Experts explain that the causes for a suicidal intention can be complex, ranging from social, economic, health, cultural, political, religious and other areas of individual’s life. Suicide is multifactorial in nature, cumulative due to number of causes which are progressive and operate over a period of time.
Kay Redfield, in her book Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide, attempts to explain the devastating impact of suicide on the victim and family members. She states that “the mental suffering leading up to it is usually prolonged, intense, and palliative. There is no morphine equivalent to ease the acute pain, and death not uncommonly is violent and grisly. The suffering of the suicidal is private and inexpressible, leaving family members, friends, and colleagues to deal with an almost unfathomable kind of loss, as well as guilt. Suicide carries in its aftermath a level of confusion and devastation that is, for the most part, beyond description.”
The major steps towards preventing suicide are identifying the problem in various dimensions, understanding risk factors, and identifying what works in individual societies. An early recognition of the warning signs and professional assistance can help to save a life.
If you notice any behavioural change in your loved ones, you should talk to them. Be a good listener as it will help them reduce stress and tension.
The Government of Anguilla has implemented emotional care and psychosocial programmes to assist in these difficult times. If you, a family member, friend, colleague or employee are in need of emotional care please contact the Mental Health Hotline at 264-584-0406 for assistance. Support is available at this number for twenty-four hours every day. Remember suicides are preventable with support.
I urge each and every one of us to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper.
May God bless you and may God continue to bless Anguilla.