Antigua: Experts advise: Dig deeper into suicides

Antigua Observer:-After an alarming spate of suicides in 2017, mental health professionals are calling on local officials here to take a more in-depth look at the possible triggers for the tragic act. Last year, the country recorded 12 attempted suicides and seven cases where persons actually managed to end their lives.

This was a staggering increase in comparison to statistics from 2016 which show that there were three attempted suicides with only one that actually resulted in a lost life. Senior psychologist in Guyana, Balogun Osunbiyi said that the government must examine the stimulants in society that allow a person to “arrive at a point in time, based on whatever is going on in society, where you begin to question the validity of your existence.”

He said that mental illness, risky sexual behaviour, a rise in crime or even addiction could lead to an individual having suicidal thoughts. He further said that the precipitating factors that contribute to suicidal thoughts could be “internal to self or hereditary in nature,” but are in many cases “more than likely due to the social setting.”

Meanwhile, psychotherapist specialising in cognitive behavioural therapy, Joy-Ann Harrigan believes that the increase in attempted suicides, especially among youth, is due to a change in parenting styles over the years. “We are not parenting with the old-fashioned values and principles that built our society,” she explained.

She said that the breakdown of the family unit has further led to a breakdown of societies on a whole. Harrigan said that with increased exposure to cosmopolitan lifestyles and media, and increased societal pressures, the youth of the country are failing to cope with the pressures of failure and rejection.

The psychotherapist said that there are many more suicide attempts than are being reported that point to “a loud cry for help.” She said that adults have been focusing on politics, material things and power, while the youth are neglected. “I think we have lost a generation and we need, as adults, to reconnect with our youth,” she added.

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