Barbados: Help for suicidal children

Barbados Today:-One week after a 16-year-old girl reportedly took her own life here, authorities at the state-run Psychiatric Hospital have announced plans for the construction of a special treatment facility for children like Chante Natasha Yarde who may be troubled.

A week ago, Yarde was discovered by her mother hanging from a rafter in their home at Mission Road, Brittons Hill, St Michael in an incident that brought back vivid memories of the hanging death on May 14, 2015 of 12-year-old Shemar Weekes of Fryers Well, Checker Hall, St Lucy.

While the circumstances surrounding the teenagers’ deaths are less than identical, both Weekes and Yarde were clearly troubled and had died having not been able to fully express or cope with all that was swirling around in their young minds.

In the wake of the two tragedies, Hospital Director David Leacock said his institution was now aiming to have a new $2 million facility up and running within the next year and a half with a view to answering the cries of other Barbadian youths before it is simply too late.

“We are seeking to have an onsite children’s unit that would hopefully address persons who are in acute crisis . . . persons who are unable to function in the home setting, where we can manage and then send them back home to their families,” Leacock told Barbados TODAY.

He said the new unit, to be located within the precincts of the Black Rock, St Michael institution, would also provide specialized care for children who are experiencing serious emotional and mental anguish.

He explained that the present situation was less than ideal for children requiring hospitalization since they had to be accommodated on adult wards.

“We are hoping with this new unit coming on stream that we can address that situation,” he told Barbados TODAY.

Without giving any statistics, Leacock said there was growing demand for the services provided by the hospital’s outpatient adolescent mental health clinic.

“We would have started here on the compound and over the years it would have grown. It started having a one-day-a-week clinic . . . that grew to the point where we needed to have it twice weekly …  [then] we decided to transfer them to an offsite [polyclinic] . . . and we [now] see quite a sizeable increase in persons accessing those services.

“Beyond that, any person, be it a child or otherwise, can still access care here [Psychiatric Hospital]. If it is after hours . . . anytime of the day, persons can come and receive services,” he said, adding that all Government-run polyclinics currently have mental health nurses and some psychiatrists.

Leacock said several schools also referred students for help.